Why make your own bread

My little buddy helping in the kitchen
my little artisan helping with the egg wash

If you’ve never made homemade bread before, this is a fun recipe to try!  Many of the cheaper storebought breads have a lengthy list of dough conditioners and stabilizers and other additives, or you can pay a pretty price for the delicious artisan breads.  While not made with 100% whole wheat flour like my  favorite honey whole wheat bread recipe, this recipe for Easy French Bread has more fiber and flavor than commercial baguettes, while keeping the same fun look and texture.  We love it for sandwiches, bruschetta, and as a side to spaghetti.  I am reprinting the original recipe* and directions, but I just dump all the ingredients in my bread machine, set it for the dough cycle, and then shape and bake it.  I also do four smaller loaves rather than two long ones.

Dissolve:  2 Tbsps dry bread machine yeast, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 tsp sugar

Combine:  2 Tbsps sugar, 2 Tbsps fat (I use real butter or canola oil), 2 tsps salt, 2 cups boiling water.

Cool to lukewarm and add yeast mixture.    

Stir in: 7 1/2 – 8 cups flour (I use 4 cups King Arthur whole grain white wheat, 3 cups bread flour for a total of 7 cups)

Knead 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Place in greased bowl, turning once.  Let rise until doubled.  Punch down and let rest 15 minutes.  Divide dough in half.  On floured surface, roll each half to a 12×15″ rectangle.  Roll up, starting at 15″ edge.  Place loaves on greased cookie sheets and make 4 or 5 slashes daigonally across tops.  Let rise until double. 

Mix and brush on 1 egg, beaten, 2 Tbsps milk

Sprinkle on, if desired, poppy or sesame seeds (I like fennel too).  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

*reprinted with permission from the More-with-Less Cookbook, 25th anniversary edition

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