This is the first time I made bread. Sad, but true. I’ve put it off for far too long and I decided that today was the day. I was full of misplaced optimism and enthusiasm. It was great.
Have you ever thought you followed a recipe to the letter and then you realize that you skipped one crucial step or forgot one key ingredient? Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend you do that with bread. Like I did.
Which ingredient would you say is the most important in bread? That’s right, yeast of course. So here I was covering my freshly kneaded hunk of dough to rise feeling pretty happy with myself. I reread the recipe for about the gazillionth time and I realized to my horror that I didn’t add enough yeast. How could I have missed that? I added 1 1/2 packages of yeast, not the 2 1/2 it called for.
Needless to say there were expletives involved. Birds flew away. Flowers wilted. Squirrels ran for cover.
I half expected my dough not to rise at all and instead be left with a spongy glossy lump of stubborn goo. Either that or there was going to be an explosion of some sort. I don’t know why when anything goes wrong I always brace myself for an explosion. To my surprise and delight I was wrong. So wrong.
French Bread with Brown Butter Spread. Hey that rhymes. And yes, it’s as awesome as it sounds.
Makes two loaves.
Source: Adapted from several different recipes.
6 cup flour
2 1/2 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cup warm water
1 tbsp cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and position a rack in the center. Once the oven has reached the temperature turn it off. Oil a large bowl and set it aside.
In a large bowl combine 2 cups of flour, yeast and salt. Stir in the warm water then beat it with an electric mixer with the hook attachment until it’s well blended. Mix in 3 more cups of flour as best you can then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Gradually keep adding the last cup of flour as you knead the dough over 8 – 10 minutes. Stop when the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl turning it a few times until all of it is oiled. Cover it with a damp tea towel and place it in the warmed oven until it’s doubled, about an hour.
Punch down the dough and divide it evenly in half. Turn both of them out onto a lightly floured surface and let them rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into a long rectangle then roll them up longways until you have a skinny tube. Moisten the edges with water and seal them then taper the ends.
Grease a large baking sheet and sprinkle the cornmeal on it. Place the loaves seam side down on the baking sheet. Cover them with the damp tea towel again and let them rise until they’ve doubled, about 30 – 40 minutes. Whisk together the egg white and water then brush it over the loaves with a pastry brush.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. With a sharp knife make 4 or 5 diagonal cuts about a ¼ inch thick on the top of each loaf. Brush them with more of the egg white mixture then bake them for 20 minutes. Brush them once again with the egg white mixture and bake them for another 15 – 20 minutes until they’re golden brown.
Brown Butter Spread
Source: As seen on Chef at Home.
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
In a small sauce pan cook 1/2 cup of the butter on medium heat for about 6 – 8 minutes until the foam subsides, the butter turns brown and you smell that delicious caramel scent. Remove it from the heat then allow it to cool and harden slightly in a bowl in the refrigerator for 15 – 30 minutes.
In large bowl with an electric mixer whip both the brown butter and the reserved 1/2 cup of salted butter until it’s light and smooth.
Spread it liberally on your slices of freshly baked French Bread. Enjoy!