Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mrs. Miller's French Bread

This is my go-to bread recipe - I usually make it once every two weeks, if not more often.  This recipe utilizes my handy Kitchenaid stand mixer, which I adore.  This bread is incredibly easy to make and so yummy!  Unfortunately, we seem to eat it too fast to snap any pictures.  I'll be sure to add one the next time I whip up a loaf (if I can manage to not slice into it first!).

Mrs. Miller's French Bread

2 cups warm water, divided (110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon, active dry yeast
4 teaspoons sugar
5-1/2 to 6-1/2 cups bread flour (you can also substitute all-purpose flour, but bread flour is best)
3 teaspoons salt
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon sugar into 1 cup warm water until combined.  Stir in active dry yeast and gently mix.  Cover the bowl (I use plastic wrap) and allow to proof until foamy (this will take about 8 minutes).  Place 5-1/2 cups flour into the stainless steel mixing bowl along with salt, remaining sugar, and oil.  After the yeast has proofed, add to the bowl, along with remaining warm water.  Using the dough hook, start kneading the bread (I use a level 2 speed for kneading).  Gradually add in more flour (a spoonful at a time) until a soft, smooth, semi-sticky dough has formed (this takes about 8 minutes).  Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a lightly floured surface, and let rest for 3 minutes. 

Oil a large deep bowl.  Gather the dough and gently knead into a ball using your hands.  Place the dough into the oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place.  The dough will double in this time.  Punch down the dough and remove to a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Let rest for 5 minutes. 

At this point, I place one half of the dough in a bowl in the refrigerator for the next day.  When baking the second loaf of bread, I just remove it from the refrigerator and place in a warm place for about one hour.  Then I follow the directions as specified below.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into an approximately 9 inch by 12 inch rectangle.  Then, using your fingers, roll up starting at a long edge.  Lightly grease a cookie sheet.  Place the loaves onto the cookie sheet, seam-side down.  Using a small, sharp knife, make 3 small diagonal cuts on the top of the loaf.  Allow loaves to rise for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

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