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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

French Bread

I have an arch nemisis; an enemy that appears to want to thwart me at every turn.   With insidious precision, it waits for me to be right in the middle of a new project to pounce.  Then, it acts innocent, as if to say "Who me, no, I'd never do that.  See how I cooperate?"

My sworn adversary is... My Oven.

Its weapons: four burners and a temperature gauge.  Both work only when they feel like it (or when the repairman is watching),  but not for long periods of time or as hot as they should.  Oh yeah, this appliance has it in for me.

Case in point: French Bread.  It was my first attempt at a nice chewy loaf.   The recipe instructions from Better Homes and Gardens say: "Cover loosely with foil during the last 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning."  Do you see the pale color of my loaves?  I did not cover them.  I was lucky to get any browning at all.  They almost look un-done.
Because the Oven won't show its true colors to repairmen (plural!), I have to deal with its nefarious ways.  Therefore I give you a delicious, if pale, pair of loaves.  Both are baguette sized.  They made wonderful garlic bread served with spaghetti and meatballs.

French Bread (from BH&G Old Fashioned Home Baking)
5 1/2 - 6 cups flour
2 packages yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp water beaten with 1 egg white
Combine the yeast, salt and water in a mixing bowl.  When the yeast is bubbly, stir or mix in the flour until you have a smooth, not sticky dough.  Cover and let rise until double, about 1 hour.  Punch down, divide in two and form two long loaves, tapered at each end.  Place them on a large baking sheet, cover and let rise for another 40 minutes.  With a sharp knife or scissors, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts on the top of each loaf.  Brush with the egg wash and bake in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes (and if you have a cooperative oven, think about tenting the loaves with foil during the last 15 minutes or so to prevent over-browning).

25 comments:

Aarthi said...

looks so simple

Nami | Just One Cookbook said...

Beautiful french bread for the first time! I wish to make my own bread for stews and some Western food (as I make rice for my Asian food) but.... I've tried 2-3 times but it was like hours in the kitchen and I sort of gave up. I'm going to try making it again as soon as my kids become a little more independent. :-)

Loveforfood said...

simple and delicious.

Lizzy said...

I think I have your oven's sibling in my kitchen! I'm going to do a marathon baking spree on Thursday and I'm fully expecting some sort of disaster! I'm glad your bread wasn't ruined...it looks wonderful!!!!

Suzi said...

Your bread still looks wonderful, have you tried kicking that oven, maybe that will help. My oven light comes on only when it feels like it.

Brooks at Cakewalker said...

Kristen, I so appreciate the trials and tribulations of finicky kitchen equipment! Nonetheless, the photo shows all the signs of a well crafted bread - especially for the first run. Brava!

Becky Jane said...

French bread is my daughter favorite snack. She'll get a whole loaf and eat it herself. Warm french bread is so yummy!

Merry Christmas!

Emily said...

The other day I made a chicken and one side came out 20 degrees hotter than the other. We had a half baked chicken. Sometimes the tools you have to work with really do effect the outcome.

Kim Bee said...

I love french bread no matter whether it's light or dark. Just step away from it and no one gets hurt. Hand it over. Slowly. No funny movements. *runs off in search of butter*

Amanda said...

french bread? oh yum.

Cathy Wiechert said...

My rolls were pretty anemic the other day, too. Your bread looks delicious, however... and once slathered in butter, who really cares about the color?

Miriam said...

My oven has been getting an attitude lately too, darn those things! Your bread looks awesome :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Ann said...

This looks really delicious! While my oven isn't old....it's starting to act up and I think it needs to be re-calibrated soon....I feel you pain!

Rachael said...

The bread looks delicious, and just feel the sympathy in the room when it comes to oven cooperation issues! All the French bread recipes I've used call for an overnight proving, I'll be interested to try this speedier version.

Tina said...

Your bread looks so delicious and fluffy, sorry it did not brown as you wanted it to. The recipe does look to be time saving-which is a plus.
I am about ready for a new oven myself it does act up sometimes and I am not sure why.
Enjoy the day!

Prathima Rao said...

This is one perfect French Bread Kristen!!!! Pass me a loaf pleeeeasee?? ;)
Prathima Rao
Prats Corner

ping said...

I think your oven and mine are related. It does funny things like that to me too. I'm happy just being able to turn out the stuff that I turn out :P
Your french loaves are the perfect color for the season ... winter! :D Other than that, everything else looks perfect!

Elyse @The Cultural Dish said...

I really want to try french bread and this looks so easy and beautiful! Came out great!

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

First, delicious is what counts

Next, try an egg wash. The egg will brown up nicely.

And if you want a really deliciously golden amber tinge of color, whisk in some paprika into the egg before the wash.

But mostly, taste and smell. I love the smell of fresh baked bread in the morning!

Dave

Claudia said...

Ovens are tricky. They're around to test the patience of cooks and bakers. This looks perfect - magical. I could never go carbless and give up something as delectable as good French Bread. Congrats to you! I like the recipe - if the oven cooperates - it is so do-able. Wishing you a most joyful holiday week. May your days be merry and bright!

Angie's Recipes said...

They would make some great garlic bread slices to go with the soup or French toast for the breakfast.

Cucina49 said...

I think the key thing is that it *tastes* good. Your loaves are lovely, despite the nefarious oven!

drick perry said...

have a baker here that calls it 'cloud bread' and another one calls it 'angel bread' but they say it's the same... I dunno, both are light as a cloud and white as angel wings so go figure... I would say yours is perfect...
Merry Christmas... best to you and yours......

Jen at The Three Little Piglets said...

I totally feel your pain! My oven hasn't been working right either lately - it fluctuates over like 100 degree range and everything ends up overdone or undone! Thankfully my husband is an electrician and will be able to fix it when he gets back from deployment.

Peggy said...

Oh I hear about people's oven problems all the time, and I always thank my lucky stars that mine is an angel (knock on wood!) Your bread looks super tasty, despite it all, though =)

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