www.TheSistersCafe.com. I have tried several french bread recipes and this one is the winner for me. It's quick, easy, and it tastes good. This recipe makes enough for two loaves, but you can easily halve it. My loaves always end up a deep brown, but they taste delicious - not burned. I will never buy store-made french bread again. Well, let's be honest, I probably will when I'm feeling super lazy. ;)
Even though it's quick and there's only one rising, you will use regular active dry yeast - NOT rapid-rise yeast. I reduced the salt slightly because I found 2 teaspoons to be too much for my taste. The recipe also calls for brushing the loaves with butter half-way through baking. I did this the first time and didn't like how it made the crust kinda soggy. So I leave that step out now, though you are welcome to do it if you want.
These loaves are dense, but not too dense, and soft inside. The crust is not a thick, crispy crust (just in case you were looking for that).
Don't forget the pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven!
QUICK AND EASY FRENCH BREAD
slightly adapted from Baguette recipe on TheSistersCafe.com
1 1/2 cups warm water (between 110-115 degrees F)
1 1/2 Tbsp. (2 packages) active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/4 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. melted butter, optional
In a small bowl, mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar; let sit for about 5 minutes - it should become foamy on top.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 1/4 cup flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture and mix until the dough comes together in a ball, adding more flour as needed. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding a little flour here and there just to keep it from sticking.
Cut dough in half. Roll each half into a long rectangle and roll up lengthwise; pinch edges to seal (I also turn under the ends so they look smooth). Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Repeat with other half of dough. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Place a rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack of oven and fill with 2 cups of boiling water. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating, take a sharp, serrated knife and cut 4 or 5 slits across top of each loaf. When oven is hot, bake loaves for 15 minutes, brushing loaves with melted butter half-way through baking time, if desired. Let loaves cool at least 5 minutes before slicing.