Sunday, July 11, 2010

Best French Bread, Ever!

We had a nice break in the hot temps here this weekend so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a bike ride to the farmers market. Although the closest market is small it offers a great selection of fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, and baked goods. They even have treats for dogs, which Coleman has benefitted from on a few occasions. So after our visit yesterday, we rode home with a bag full of corn, lima beans, andouille sausage, and gouda. Although I was excited about the loot, I wasn't much in the mood for making a big meal yesterday. Instead I decided to bake some bread to go with the gouda. Now, you might say, "I thought you weren't up for spending a lot of time in the kitchen" - which was true, but since I used the bread machine for kneading the dough I didn't really have to do much. Sure, I had to be home to punch down the dough a few times, but it was raining so I wasn't missing out of anything by sticking around the house. In the end, I was extremely pleased with how well this bread turned out - I couldn't stop eating it!

1 1/4 C warm water
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 C bread flour
2 tsp active dry yeast

Pour water into bread machine pan, then add salt and flour. Make a small well in the center of the flour, be careful not to reach the water level, and put the yeast in the well. Select the dough setting and press start. When the dough setting ends, set a timer and allow the dough to rise for another hour in the bread machine (do not set the bread machine on any cycle). After one hour, punch the bread down, and let it rise in the bread machine for another hour.

Turn dough out of the pan onto a lightly floured surface. Form into a smooth round ball and flatten it with your hands. Place the dough ball into a large bowl that is lined with a clean kitchen towel that has been dusted with flour. Place bowl in a warm dry place and let dough rise, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 450°. Turn dough out of bowl onto a lightly oiled baking pan. Slash the top of the dough in a # pattern. Place a small pan with 2 cups of boiling water on the bottom rack of the oven. Place the bread on the top rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Let bread sit for one hour before slicing.

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