Easy French Bread

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This is a really great way to make French bread. It's faster than any other recipe I've made (except for baguettes - those are super fast to make). The method is a little different than what I've done in the past, but it really worked and resulted in a great bread with a nice crust and soft chewy inside. So good. I got the recipe from Your Home Based Mom. You can either make one large loaf or 2 smaller loaves. I opted for the 2 smaller loaves so I could make sub sandwiches for my kids lunch with one of the loaves the next day.

Easy French Bread

1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 - 4 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water
1 egg white + 1 tablespoon water

In the bowl of a mixer combine 1/4 cup warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Allow to stand until bubbly. Add in 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, 1 cup + 2 tablespoons warm water, and 2 1/2 cups of flour. Mix for 1 minute. Add additional flour until you form a dough that pulls away from sides of bowl, but it should still be a little sticky - for me I used 3 1/4 cups total. Knead with dough hook on medium high speed for 5 minutes.

Form dough into a smooth ball and place in a greased bowl with non-stick plastic wrap over the top. Let rise for 15 - 20 minutes in a warm place.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface. If desired, cut dough in half for 2 loaves. Roll out dough with a rolling pin, then roll up jelly-roll style and turn ends under, pinching to seal seams, and place seam side down onto a greased cookie sheet (or use a silpat or parchment). Cut 3 diagonal cuts into the loaf/loaves, about 1/4 inch deep. Combine egg white and water and brush onto the loaf/loaves.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and TURN OFF OVEN. Boil a pan of water and pour water into a shallow baking dish placed on lowest rack in oven. Place sheet with bread dough on the rack above the water and let rise until doubled, about 10-15 minutes. Remove baking dish with water. Turn oven to 425 and bake for 10 minutes. Turn down heat to 375 and bake for an additional 8 minutes or until golden brown.

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