Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Servings: 2 loaves
Storage Life of Ingredients: 1 year
Crusty on the outside, soft and light on the inside, this French bread is great to serve with any Italian dinner.
My friend, Sharen Jackman, shared this recipe with me and we have really enjoyed being able to make our own French bread.
Measure the temperature of the water with a candy thermometer. If the water is too cold the yeast will not activate. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast. Mix the water, yeast, and sugar together in a bowl and allow to rest for 5 minutes until the yeast becomes foamy.
Combine 2 cups of flour and salt together with a wire whisk. Add the oil and flour mixture to the yeast in the stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment for 2 minutes.
Change to the dough hook and continue adding flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for 10 minutes. If the dough gets sticky at the bottom of the bowl while you are kneading it, add a little bit more flour.
Grease your hands and a large bowl. Place the dough in the greased bowl. Turn the dough over to coat both sides with oil.
Cover, and allow to rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
Divide dough in half and allow to rest for 2 minutes.
Shape each half into a French loaf and score diagonal lines on the top of each loaf with a knife.
Place the loaves on a sheet pan sprinkled with cornmeal; cover and allow to rise until double in size (about 1 hour).
Bake at 400° for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
If you would like a crispy crust, place a roasting pan filled with boiling water on the oven rack underneath the sheet pan. You can also brush an egg wash on the dough (1 egg white mixed with one tablespoon water) before baking. If you are looking for a soft crust, you can brush the bread with melted butter when it comes out of the oven.
Bread Flour: Bread flour can be stored in 5-gallon food-grade buckets with resealable lids. Layer the flour with bay leaves to keep the weevils away. Grains will keep for at least a year using this method.
Yeast: I always keep my yeast in the freezer. Label it with the date bought and the date it expires so you will know how long it will last on your shelf if the power goes out. It will last at least a year if kept in the freezer.
Sugar: The shelf life of sugar is indefinite, but is best if used within 3 years.
Canola Oil: Canola oil has a shelf-life of 1 year.
Salt: Table salt has a shelf-life of 5 years.
Cornmeal: My Rainy Day cornmeal will last 20-25 years if kept at a temperature below 60 degrees. Once opened it needs to be used within a year or it will stale.