I purchased a roll of refrigerated french bread dough at the store the other day. I was planning to make some sandwiches with it. Last night, I pulled it out and unrolled it onto my cookie sheet. What in the world? It was so skinny? I guess it should have been common sense that for the packaging to be so small, the dough inside must be small. I guess I just thought it would magically expand or something? Anyway, there was no way I could make sandwiches out of that and there was no way I was going to use regular bread. So, I decided now would be a good time to try Jamie's French Bread Recipe. I had been wanting to try it for awhile, but never got around to it. I threw the ingredients in the mixer and whipped up a batch.
The instructions look really long, but it really was so easy and didn't take too much time. It makes three small loaves and Jamie says that they freeze very well. I was very impressed with the results. The inside seemed a little more dense than store bought, but that could have just been because I ate it right out of the oven and didn't let it cool or because I skipped the 20 minutes rise in the middle. The crust has the perfect amount of crisp, it's not too tuff (I hate french bread where the crust is so tuff that you pretty much have to rip it apart with your teeth). So, give this a try, you will love it.
Fabulous French Bread
adapted from: Jamie Cooks It Up
*Check out Jamie's Blog for a great step-by-step tutorial*
1 Tbl. shortening
1 Tbl. salt
2 Tbl. sugar
1 c. boiling water
1 c. cold water
1/3 c. warm water
1 Tbl. active dry yeast
5-6 c. all-purpose flour
1. Place 1 cup hot water in the microwave for 3 minutes to get it boiling.
2. Dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Stir it around until it is all mixed.
3. Combine the salt, shortening and sugar in the bottom of your mixer bowl and mash with a fork. You need to smash up the mixture until it resembles coarse sand.
4. Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture.
5. Pour the cold water over the mixture.
6. Pour the warm water and yeast into the mixer.
7. Begin to add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of your mixer bowl.
8. Using the dough hook, let the dough mix on high for 8 minutes.
9. Let the dough rise in the mixer for about 20 minutes. (This step can be skipped if you are in a hurry). (I skipped this step, but I would like to try it next time).
10. Separate the dough into three equal parts and place on a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes. Letting it sit will make it MUCH easier to shape.
11. Spread the dough (one part) out on the jelly roll pan.
12. Then, roll up the dough, like you would cinnamon rolls.
13. Then, pick up the two ends and fold them in toward each other, meeting in the middle.
14. Turn the loaf, so the seam side is down and the top is smooth. Repeat these steps with the other 2 parts of dough.
15. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray.
16. Whisk egg until frothy.
17. Cut three diagonal slits in the top of each loaf. Cover with the egg wash, being sure to get it into all of the slits.
18. Place the loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.
19. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees for a convection oven and 400 degrees for a regular oven. Leave the loaves in while the oven increases in temperature.
20. Bake for 10 minutes convection or 15 minutes regular oven or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees for convection and 350 degrees for regular and turn the pan around in the oven. Bake for another 7 minutes convection or 10 minutes for regular. Yield: 3 small loaves.