"Marie! The Baguettes! Hurry up!" If life were a musical, that's what I would be singing as I pulled these loaves out of the oven. (Ok- that's what I sang anyway.) I can make a good hearty loaf of whole wheat bread, but I've never tried my hand at any other bread, so I thought I would give it a shot. It was HARD WORK! It seemed quite labor intensive for two small loaves, but I was amazed at how the little tweaks in the recipe could change the flavor so much. It turned out tasting quite delicious... and quite like french bread.... shocking, I know. :) I know I'm a slacker, but I do have to say that when you can pretty much pick it up for $1, it becomes one of those things... like angel food cake, that is totally worth every penny at the store. I'm just saying. BUT it is a good skill to have I suppose. (although, mine could use some practice. :)
Classic French Bread (Betty Crocker)
to 3 1/2 cups flour
package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
cup very warm water (120ºF to 130ºF)
tablespoons vegetable oil
tablespoon cold water
Poppy seed or sesame seed
- In large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft).
- On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Grease large bowl with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. (Rising time is longer than times for traditional breads, which gives the typical French bread texture.) Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
- Grease large cookie sheet with shortening or spray with cooking spray; sprinkle with cornmeal. Gently push fist into dough to deflate; divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into 15 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.
- Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across tops of loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
- Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.
- Heat oven to 375º. Mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy or sesame seed.
- Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Makes 2 loaves (12 slices each)