Homemade French Bread

Posted on January 3, 2014
Hi Everybody! I hope your new year has been off to a good start! After all the holiday cooking, baking and eating these past couple of weeks, I am so ready for some simple and clean food this month. I always feel like January is when winter gets really dark and cold, and by February it feels like it has lasted forever. The other night, I wanted to make a quick, light but still comforting soup, so I made THIS Potato Leek soup (which was delicious!) and I baked this French bread to go along with it. The original recipe is for baguettes, but these loaves definitely have more of a French bread texture, they don’t have a hard crust, but are so incredibly soft and fluffy on the inside (they were still very soft the following day too)! I turned one of the loaves into croutons (just cube the loaf, dry out the cubed bread in the oven on low heat for ten minutes, then finish them off on the stove in a buttered pan until they are golden brown) to serve with the soup, and they turned out great!
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HOMEMADE FRENCH BREAD
(Recipe from The Cooking Channel)
*Makes 2 Loaves*
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YOU WILL NEED
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbs honey
2 packages instant dry yeast
3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
Additional 1/2 cup – 1 cup warm water
Cornmeal for dusting
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DIRECTIONS
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1. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of warm water, the honey and all the yeast and quickly stir to get the honey mixed in, then cover the bowl and let it stand for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is frothy.

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2. Next, in your electric mixer bowl, combine about 3 1/2 cups of flour with all the salt. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix using the dough hook attachment on your mixer. Measure out 1 cup of warm water and begin pouring some in with the mixer running. Add enough water for a soft dough to form (I added just under 3/4 cup). If the dough is too sticky, just add in some more flour. Knead in your mixer for 6 minutes. Then, form the dough into a ball, place it in a greased bowl, cover it and let it rise in a warm place (I always let mine rise in the microwave, not with the microwave on, obviously!) for 30 minutes.

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3. Once the 30 minutes have passed, take out the dough, punch it down, divide it in two and shape each half into one loaf. Do this by shaping the half into a rectangle, then folding all edges into the center and pinching down the seams. Repeat this several times, stretching the rectangle out a little every time, until the loaf is about 12 – 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Place the loaves on a sheet pan that you have dusted with cornmeal. Make diagonal cuts on top of the loaves, then cover them with a dishtowel and let them rise for another half hour.

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4. Preheat your oven to 450 deg F and prepare a baking dish with some water (you will need to add a couple of ice cubes to it once it’s time to bake the bread). Adjust the baking racks in your oven, place one in the middle, and one on the bottom (the one in the middle is for the bread, the one on the bottom is for the dish with water). Once the loaves have risen for the half hour, place them in the oven, add a couple of ice cubes to the water in the dish and place the dish on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. (*Note: watch the bread very closely as it bakes, especially after 10 minutes of baking, and take it out whenever it starts getting golden brown and  sounds hollow when you knock on it. Baking time may also depend on your oven (my gas oven burns everything very quickly) and on your baking sheet – I’m going to try a pizza stone next time!) Let the bread cool and sit for about 20 minutes before slicing.

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Happy Baking, Everyone!

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21 Comments

  • Reply Leslie January 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Your bread is beautiful! It would be perfect with (one of my faves!) potato leak soup!! I usually make Barefoot Contessa’s but this soup recipe looks delicious too! I’m trying to weed most of the sugar out of my life, but it’s not easy with tons of goodies still around:-/
    Blessings,
    Leslie

    • Reply Maria January 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Thanks, Leslie! I’m trying to do the same thing… and I can’t believe how hard it is! I’m fasting all sweets this January, and trying to cut down on sugar in general. I’ve eaten so many cookies and sugary goodies this Christmas, it’s really hard not to have any now!! I’m going to pack all of the sugary treats away and not even have them in my kitchen or pantry to avoid the temptation!! Hope you and your family have a very happy new year and that you had the most wonderful Christmas!

  • Reply Winnie January 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    I love working with yeast and you french bread looks terrific Maria 🙂
    Happy New Year!

    • Reply Maria January 4, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Thank you so much! I love baking with yeast too, there’s nothing like fluffy bread! Happy new year to you too, hope it’s a wonderful one for you!

  • Reply cooking with curls January 5, 2014 at 12:39 am

    Wow, those are gorgeous loaves of bread Maria!! I will need to add this to my ever growing list of recipes to make this year. 😉 They look delicious!

  • Reply Brandi January 5, 2014 at 5:18 am

    Gosh, this looks good! There is nothing in the world like homemade bread!

  • Reply Charlie PickledOkra January 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Yum! Pinning!

  • Reply Laura January 7, 2014 at 8:23 am

    This looks fantastic! I’m always on the lookout for good bread recipes- thanks for sharing:)

  • Reply Robin Johnson January 7, 2014 at 10:32 am

    This looks way to easy! Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Reply Khit Mandeville January 7, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I will try this next week! ive bookmarked it already..

    Stopping by from the The Scoop blog hop..

    Godbless,
    khit Mandeville @ http://abountifullove.blogspot.com/

  • Reply Cheryl King January 8, 2014 at 4:03 am

    What a lovely couple of loaves this makes. I am pinning and saving this recipe to my to try list! Thanks for sharing on Tasty Tuesday!

  • Reply Sparkling January 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t wait to make this. They look fantastic!!

  • Reply thehappyidiot January 8, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Making bread is the best winter activity. Love to try this.


    thehappyidiot.wordpress.com

  • Reply Jessi @ Practically Functional January 9, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    I love making bread, but I’ve never tried making French bread! Totally pinning this, and I wanted to let you know I featured this on my blog this morning; thanks for sharing it at Creativity Unleashed!

  • Reply Nancy Reinke January 9, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    I love to bake bread. I haven’t made French bread for awhile; I’ll have to try this recipe. I like the name of your blog, and I see that we have the same taste in movies. “You’ve Got Mail” is a favorite of mine, too. I’m your newest follower. You have a lovely blog, and I’m looking forward spending more time here. I’d like to invite you to share your post at my month-long blog party Every Room In The House. Since we’re partying in The Kitchen this month, I’m encouraging all cooks to share their recipes. Here’s the link: http://www.ajoyfulcottage.com/2014/01/every-room-in-house-party-1.html
    I do hope you’ll come. ~ Nancy @ A Joyful Cottage

  • Reply Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl January 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for posting this at the Saturday Night Fever link party. Hope to see you back on Saturday!

  • Reply Alison Agnew January 9, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    i can almost (almost)
    catch the aroma seeping through
    my computer screen

    this looks absolutely delicious
    and doable

    would love for you to share
    at Fridays Unfolded this week!

    Alison
    Nancherrow

  • Reply The Cottage Market {Andrea} ♥ January 10, 2014 at 4:56 am

    A little slice of HEAVEN!!!! : ) Yum Yum!!!! hugs…

  • Reply Cathy Trochelman January 10, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    I can just imagine the way this would smell when it comes out of the oven……to die for! Thanks for sharing at Saturday Night Fever. Pinning!!

  • Reply Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above January 14, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing them with Wednesday’s Adorned From Above Link Party.
    Have a great week.
    Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above

  • Reply Silwin Pereira April 13, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    Looks fantastic. Great recipe.

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