Thursday, September 9, 2010

The BEST French Bread

If I had to choose a favorite recipe, I think this might be it. I got the recipe from a fellow church member about 5 years ago and have been making it ever since. It has a beautiful, shiny outer crust that is fabulous to dip in any kind of soup or pasta dish. It freezes like a dream and I have used the dough to make all kinds of other things. Pizza dough, Cal zone dough, Pepperoni Wraps, Sandwich Loafs, and more. I will be posting all of these ways to use this wonderful recipe in days to come!
I can usually make a batch in about 90 minutes 
(depending on how many folks need help with homework and practicing!)
I can fit a double batch in my large sized Kitchen Aid, but I always use my Bosch when I triple or quadruple the recipe.
Give it a try!
Don't be afraid of yeast.
You and yeast can be good friends, I promise!

Fabulous French Bread
Time: 90 minutes
Yield: 3 loaves
Recipe from Krista Robinson
1 T shortening
1 T salt
2 T sugar
1 C boiling water
1 C cold water
1/3 C lukewarm water
1 T yeast (I use active dry)
5 - 6 C white all purpose flour
1 egg

1. Place the 1 C hot water in the microwave for 3 minutes to get it boiling.
2. Dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Stir it around until it is all mixed.
3. Combine the salt, shortening, and sugar in the bottom of your mixer with a fork. The dough hook doesn't work very well. You need to smash up the mixture until it resembles the picture above.
4. Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture.
5. Pour the cold water over the mixture.
6. Pour the warm water and yeast into the mixer.
7. Begin to add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of your mixer...see the picture below.
8. Let the dough mix on high for 8 minutes.
9. Let the dough rise in the mixer for about 20 minutes. (This step can actually be skipped if you are in a hurry!)

10. Separate the dough into three parts and place on a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray. Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes. Letting it sit will make it MUCH easier to shape.
11. Spread the dough out (on the jelly roll pan) as pictured below.
12. Then roll the dough up like this.
13. Then bring the ends over and layer them on top of each other.
14. Turn the loaf so the seam side is down. Repeat these steps with the other 2 parts of dough.

15. Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray.

16. Make your egg wash by whisking the egg until frothy.
17. Cut three diagonal slits in the top of each loaf. Cover with the egg wash being sure to get it into all of the slits.
18. Place the loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.
19. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees for a convection oven, and 400 degrees for a regular oven. Leave the loaves in while the oven increases in temperature.
20. Bake for 10 minutes convection or 15 regular oven, or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty.
21. Turn the oven down to 325 for convection, 350 for regular and turn the pan around in the oven. Bake for another 7 minutes convection or 10 minutes for regular.
THE END....that was like writing a short novel! It has a lot of steps but as I said before, this bread is worth it. We love it. My  kids like to pass it around the neighborhood to their friends when I make it. Sometimes they even come and knock on the door when they can smell it baking, just to be sure they are going to get a slice....or a loaf! They can really pack it away in a quick hurry! (Thus the reason for tripling and quadrupling the recipe!) 

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