I don’t know why I got the urge to bake bread from scratch, but today found me doing just that. It wasn’t that I had a lot of time to do it, either. We spent most of the early afternoon splitting and cutting wood for winter. Actually, I did the splitting with a sledgehammer and wedge, and my husband, Frank, sawed up the big pieces into stackable ones. Maybe it was learning something new, like splitting really big pieces of wood. Whatever, when we got inside, I decided I was going to bake bread for supper to go along with pressure cooked cottage ham and green beans. I wanted to share the recipe with you, especially if you’re intimidated by making bread from scratch. This really is easy, I promise. So try it and let me know how you like it
Fast French bread from scratch
This will not be like a French baguette that you buy from the bakery. It makes a larger, wider loaf with a close, tender crumb and golden crust. Use instant fast rising yeast, which is more aggressive than regular yeast.
2 packages instant fast rising yeast (not regular yeast)
2-1/4 cups warm water, divided
6 cups bread flour (whisk before measuring, and spoon into cup)
1 tablespoon salt
Put yeast into food processor with 1/4 cup warm water. Pulse to blend. Add flour and salt and process a few seconds. Keep motor running and add rest of water, and let it mix until the dough forms a mass around the blade and sides are clean. This will take a minute or two.
Remove and knead on very lightly floured surface 5 minutes. Bless the dough.
Divide in half and shape into 2 long loaves, about 12″ long each.
Place on sprayed baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400. Cut several diagonal slashes on top with sharp knife. This will deflate the bread a bit, don’t worry.
Place in oven and throw a handful of ice cubes on the floor of oven. This
makes for a crunchier crust. Bake 30 minutes, lower temperature to 350 and bake 10 minutes more.
I like to slather on some butter on the crust right after it comes out of the oven.
Tip from Rita’s kitchen: Divide recipe in half
Yes, you can and you’ll get one nice loaf.
Using a mixer:
This will take more time but should turn out well.
Put yeast and 1/4 cup water in mixer and blend on low. Add flour and salt and blend. With machine running, slowly add rest of water and let it mix until it is very well mixed, starting on low and increasing speed to medium until it forms a on the beater.
Remove and proceed with recipe.