Everyone was asking everyone what they were going to do during the big snowstorm. Like several others, I decided we (er...Matt) were going to bake. And I'd make the soup, and it would be a picture-perfect day, and we'd cuddle by the fire with our big bowls, and it would be oh-so-romantic. Well, the bread and soup got made, the fire is expensive to light (it's fake, and uses a lot of gas), and we were watching a Dexter marathon so grisly television shows featuring serial killers isn't really a mood inducer. Oh well....the meal was still fabulous.
Here's Matt's French bread, which isn't his at all, but found on All Recipes. You know when you go to a good restaurant and they give you fresh bread, warmed, with butter or dipping oil? This is it...but better. It's crunchy and flaky and soft and chewy. I think I'm in love.
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tsps. salt
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 Tb. cornmeal
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tb. water
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast and salt. Stir in 2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
- Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
- Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
- With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.