The Ultimate French Bread
Headline: BREAD MACHINE RESCUES MEAL FROM BOREDOM! Never again will you purchase French bread from the store. Impress your friends and neighbors with a warm loaf, laugh delightedly when the compliments start rolling in. COOKING TIME includes rising time, too.
- Ready In:
- 1hr 15mins
- 1 1⁄4 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1⁄2 cups bread flour
- 1 tablespoon yeast
CRUNCHY CRUST GLAZE
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
SOFT CRUST GLAZE
- 1 egg
- water, beaten
SILKY CRUST GLAZE
- 1 egg
- milk, beaten
- Add to bread machine according to owner's manual (my machine does liquids first); program for DOUGH or MANUAL.
- At the end of the cycle, place on lightly floured surface, rolling into a large rectangle; start at the longest end and roll up tightly, pressing seams and tapering each end, tucking under.
- Place loaf on a greased baking sheet or stone; cover and let rise for one hour until doubled.
- Near end of rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix glaze ingredients in a small bowl; brush over loaf generously; snip three diagonal slashes over the top (optional).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, top will be golden brown.
- VARIATIONS: After rolling dough into a rectangle, (1) sprinkle with grated cheese [cheddar is delicious], or (2) generously brush with melted butter & sprinkle some aromatic herbs, or (3) spoon leftover marinara sauce close to the edges, -- then roll up tightly and pinch edges; continue as described in Step #3.
- VARIATION #2: Mince one small onion (about 1/4 cup) and add to wet ingredients.
- CREATIVE SUGGESTION: Shape into a round loaf instead of the usual long loaf.
- BABY FRENCH BREAD LOAFLETS: Divide dough ball into 12 balls, tapering to make mini-loaves; bake 15-20 minutes--watch carefully!
- FRENCH TWIST: Divide dough into 3 pieces, rolled into 14-16" ropes. Lay them on pan and braid in usual fashion, tuck ends under, stretch out a bit if need be; brush with 2 T. melted butter; cover & rise for about 30 minutes; brush with glaze, bake 20-25 minutes--watch carefully.
MY PRIVATE NOTES
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This is a delicious bread. So easy to make. I use my bread machine and start with the warm water and sugar and I sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit for about 5 minutes. I add the dry ingredients and let the machine knead it and do the first rise. I remove it, spread it out, generously butter it (about 2 tablespoons of melted butter) and sprinkle it with herbs de provence, fold it, pinch it, and let it rise for another hour. I use the salt & water crisp glaze, 3-4 snips in the top and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. It is perfect every time. This is a no-fail bread, that bakes up so beautifully. It's excellent for sandwiches, with butter, or just plain. Amaze your friends & family and never buy your bread from the grocery again.