gardening. cooking. everyday echols family spectacles.
I am always on the look-out for good bread recipes. Not because it’s necessarily cheaper to make your own bread these days (honestly it’s hard to beat the $.99 “basic” options out there in terms of price), but because making your own bread is an easy, awesome way to add extra nutrients in to your diet, cut out more preservatives than I care to mention, and homemade bread is just so darn NUMMY!
I found a basic french bread recipe on THIS site that got it from THIS site and have been so happy with my variations on the theme that I wanted to once again, pass on the bread-love… with an everyday twist of course ;)
Whole Wheat French Bread
Adapted from the aforementioned recipes
Makes 2 loaves (one person mentioned this recipe freezes very well so you can eat one loaf and save the other, but I haven’t tried it… if you do let us know how it turns out once it’s been thawed!)
Start-to-finish ~ 2 hours 15 minutes
2 1/4 cups warm water
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups white flour
2 -3 cups whole wheat flour (If you are trying to sneak some different grains in to your diet, feel free to experiment with these cups – I can usually get away with a 50:50 mix of whole wheat flour and another flour like oatmeal flour, ground up flax seeds, etc.)
1) Put warm water in a large bowl. Add sugar and yeast and stir gently to dissolve. Let this sit for ~ 10 minutes until yeast begins to bubble.
2) Add salt and oil to yeast mixture and stir to disperse.
3) Add flour – Start with 3 cups white flour and stir to mix. Gradually add the whole wheat flour in 1/2 cup increments JUST until flour no longer sticks to hands or sides of bowl. Don’t be obsessed with adding the exact prescribed amount of flour here, especially since whole wheat flours can vary so much in their bake-ability. Just add until your dough is the right consistency and stop! No one likes crumbly bread ;)
4) In the bowl (or a flour coated surface if you are not as lazy as me and don’t mind having more to clean up :P), knead dough until well combined and form it in to a ball.
5) Remove dough from bowl, coat bowl with cooking spray, place dough inside, and cover with a dishtowel/ other moisture-keeping-in covering. Put in a warm draft-free place (like the oven) to rise.
6) And now begins the rising process! I know this can sound like a pain but believe me, it makes a huge difference in the texture of your bread. Allow the dough to rise for 1 HOUR TOTAL BUT every 10-15 minutes, uncover your dough, punch it down/ mix it up/ knead it for ~ 10 seconds, return cover and allow dough to rest/ rise until it’s next “beating.” You should do this 4-5 times in the hour rising period.
7) After dough has finished rising, form your loaves. Divide dough in to two equal parts and one at a time, on a flour-covered surface or clean dish towel sprinkled with flour (works so much better than a standard “floured surface” or even parchment paper… try it, you’ll never go back!), roll dough in to ~ 9×13 inch rectangle and starting from the long end, roll up your dough. Finish by pinching ends of the roll to seal.
8) When both loaves have been formed, place them seam-side-down on a parchment paper-covered, cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut three 1/2 deep angled gashes in to each loaf. Cover loaves with a dish towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. During this time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
9) When the 30 minutes is up, uncover loaves and bake them on the middle oven rack for 25 – 30 minutes at 375 degrees. At this point you have some options in terms of your crust preference. Personally, I like to wait until the loaves have been in the oven for about 5 minutes at which point I brush them lightly with butter to give them a buttery crust. Others prefer an egg-wash-crust achieved but beating 1 egg, mixing it with 1 tbsp water and using a pastry brush to coat the tops of the loaves BEFORE they go in the oven. You can also sprinkle your bread with sesame seeds or place a pan of hot water at the bottom of the oven while the bread is baking to have a “crustier” crust. Really the possibilities are endless so have at it.
10) When the bread is nicely browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf, remove from oven and place on racks to cool. Use as sandwich bread or serve with soups, pastas, or what have you :)