Pour two cups of warm water into a large bowl and mix in two packages of active dry yeast. Give this about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to fully dissolve.
To the bowl add two cups of flour…
and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Mix this in with a fork.
No I don’t have a mixer with a hook and I am totally ok with that. In my humble opinion if a person is just learning how to work with yeast, I feel the best way to get to know it is to do the work by hand. Instead of letting a machine do all the mixing, get in there yourself and get your hands dirty. Get to know what the dough is suppose to feel like.
When the first two cups of flour have been mixed in, slowly mix in 3 1/2 more cups.
Turn your dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead your dough for about 8 – 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
Shape your dough into a ball…
and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover your bowl and let your dough rise in a warm place until it is double in size (about 1 hour).
It can be kind of tough to find a warm spot in my house when the AC is blasting so I let my dough rise in the laundry room since the dryer is almost always running. The best two smells ever! Clean laundry and rising bread.
Tada! You can poke a shallow hole in the dough with your finger to see if it has risen enough. If the hole fills in let it rise a bit more, but if it stays you can move on to the next step.
Punch it down…
and divide your dough in half. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
While your dough is resting lets get our baking sheets ready.
Lightly spray them with cooking oil and sprinkle with a bit of cornmeal. Sounds kinda kooky I know, but the corn meal will help prevent the bottom of your bread from burning.
Roll each dough half into a 15 by 10 inch rectangle. I didn’t have a ruler handy, so I just eyeballed mine.
If you go onto Youtube and look up “How to shape french bread” you will see some real masters at work. They might intimidate you. They might make you want to quit while your ahead. They kinda scared me. I got this shaping method out of my Better Homes and Garden cookbook and it works great.
Now tightly roll up your dough starting from a long side. Seal the ends by pinching them.
Place your shaped dough seam side down on your baking sheet. Brush some egg whites mixed with 1 tablespoon of water on top. Let this rise again until it has doubled in size (about 35 – 45 minutes).
After your dough has risen take a very sharp knife and make 4 to 5 diagonal cuts across each loaf.
Place your dough into a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 – 40 minutes. If you can’t tell if it’s done lightly tap on it. If your bread sounds hollow you can take it out.
So pretty! One loaf came out a little bowed, but that’s ok! It was still delicious.
A little bit of butter and maybe some red sauce to dip it in. This bread is so good you’ll want to make it week after week. French bread from the grocery store just wont taste the same!
- 5 1/2 cups of flour
- 2 packages of active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups of warm water
- 1 egg white, slightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon of water