Homemade French bread

SCRATCH KITCHEN HIGH ALTITUDE SURVIVING AND THRIVING 

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Ingredients

• 2 1/3 cups lukewarm water + 1-1/2 tsp water (for mixing dough)

• 3 teaspoons rapid rise yeast

• 2 teaspoons sugar

• 6 cups all purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 1 egg

• 2 tablespoons cool water

Instructions

• Add the water, yeast and sugar to the bowl of your stand mixer (or to a large mixing bowl if you’re making the bread by hand). Mix together with a fork and let sit for about 5-6 minutes.

• Once the yeast mixture is bubbly, add 5 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt (be sure the salt doesn’t touch the yeast mixture directly – mix it in with the flour first).

• Mix on low speed (if using a stand mixer) until the dough comes together, adding the last half cup of flour as the mixer begins to knead the dough. 

• Add an additional teaspoon of water to dough. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl with ease but not too sticky. If too wet, add tiny bit of flour. 

• Let the mixer knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes on low speed. If making by hand, knead the dough for about 6-7 minutes on a lightly floured surface. 

• Remove dough from bowl on floured surface and tuck sides Under into a ball. Lightly oil the bowl.

• Let the ball of dough rest in the kitchen aid bowl to rise for about 1 hour or keep in warm place, and cover the bowl with some plastic wrap. I wrapped it with a towel on top and bottom as well then sat in a heating pad on medium setting. This works great in colder weather climates (I.e. winter months with temps below 40 degrees)

• After 1 hour punch the dough down and scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface (flour your hands as well). SAVE THE PLASTIC WRAP FOR LATER.

• To shape the dough, divide the dough in half (this recipe makes two loaves). Roll the first half out into a rectangle about 16 inches by 18 or 20 inches. Roll the longer side of the dough up tightly into a medium-shaped loaf, making sure you roll tightly enough that there are no large gaps of air between the pieces of dough.

• If the corners are not in perfect rectangle as you roll the dough, gently tug on the dough to bring it to meet the rest of the dough.

• Pinch the ends together tightly to seal them and flip the loaf over, placing it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

• Repeat these steps for the second loaf to shape it as well.

• Score the loaves with a sharp knife very carefully, creating 5 or 6 cuts on the top of each loaf about 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch thick.

• Cover the loaves and let them rise for another 20-25 minutes, covered with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap from bowl. 

• Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and brush the mixture very gently over the top of the bread just before baking.

• Bake the loaves for about 18-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. 10 minutes in, rotate the sheet so each bread gets even heat distribution. (Most ovens get hotter on one side)

• Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool almost completely before slicing and serving.

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