French Bread

I learned to make my own french bread last week.  It still tickles me to think about it.  Yes, I am easily amused.  I prefer to think of it as taking pleasure in the simple things.  Whatever.  Anyway, this was a fun accomplishment for me.  I’ve made almost all of our bread since we moved to SmallTown.  With a bread machine.  I had been the proud owner of a second hand bread machine for many, many years and had hardly used it.  In HomeTown, I bought those mixes for bread machines.  I used it to try different things, not necessarily to save money.  After gathering dust for at least two years, it was packed up and moved to SmallTown.

That little breadmaker that I paid $10 for in probably 1998 earned its keep in my new kitchen.  It baked up some yummy bread three or four times a week for well over a year before it died.  This time the ingredients were bought in bulk and I had the price of a loaf of bread down to under 50 cents.  Even adding whole wheat flour.  Then I wore out my second used bread machine, then my third.  Now I have a new, as in from a store, bread machine.  I hated paying retail for one, but garage sales did not provide me any alternatives.  I am still looking though…I like to have a backup on hand.  That first machine is still my favorite and I use some of those recipes in my new machine.

My bread repertoire consists mainly of white, wheat and dough for pizza, cinnamon rolls and Stromboli.  Not very fancy, but it saves me a LOT of money.  Bread here in SmallTown often tops $3 a loaf for white and over $4 for wheat.  With the daycare and lunch packing kids, bread at those prices could break the budget.  While keeping it basic is fine, I’m getting a bit more adventurous.  I feel like learning to make more shaped breads.

Making french bread is exciting to me in part because I love garlic toast.  And we eat pasta a few times a month.  Pasta dinners are so much better with good crunchy garlic toast.  Unfortunately, I can’t always get french bread in the local stores.  I don’t know if I get there too late and its already sold out or if they just don’t make it some days.  Last week as I was planning meals for Thanksgiving weekend, I knew I wanted to serve pasta one night.  I was wondering how to go about the french bread when it occurred to me that I could just MAKE it!  Wow…what a novel idea.  I dug out a book and had a trial run going in the breadmachine in no time.  It was really tasty even though my shaping skills are definitely those of a novice.  When I made it for our company last weekend, it was even better.  I love being able to scratch that off my grocery list.

What is funny to me is that I am always surprised when something like this turns out for me.  I generally tend to be a person that believes I can do whatever I set out to do.  Yet, I am always shocked to see one of my experiments work.  I get excited and it really makes my day…my poor husband must think I’m such a flake sometimes.  But he sure likes the french bread.

So I don’t lose the recipe, here it is:

French Bread

Add ingredients, at room temp, listed in order.

1 cup +2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

  • Select DOUGH program and start.
  • When cycle is complete, mine takes 90 minutes, place dough on lightly floured surface and let rest 5 minutes.
  • Cut dough into halves.  Roll each into a long rope and place on a lightly greased pan. I did two the first time and left it as one larger loaf the second.
  • Glaze each baguette with egg white.  Slash 5 times with sharp knife or scissors.  Place in a warm draft-free spot to rise until double in size, about 45-60 minutes.
  • Glaze unslashed portions again with egg white.  Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until deep brown.
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