Crusty French Bread: Sayonara my local bakery shop!

March 13, 2013 Intense Flavors by Carole Brighenti
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Crusty French Bread Whoever said, “man cannot live on bread alone”, apparently never ate Carole Romatis Brighenti’s home-cooked, crusty French bread.

Not all men are alike. And neither are all French loaves. If you want French bread tastier than that sold in any neighborhood bakery, you gotta try baking and then eating this recipe for crusty French bread. Yummy, yummy, yummy…I got love in my tummy.

For years my wife raved about the bread made at our local bakery shop here in Berlin, Connecticut. Indeed that bakery does bake a good French bread; however, it pales in comparison to the crusty French bread made from this recipe.  And it is half the cost!

Carole would stop faithfully at our local bakery at least a couple of times a week because she always liked her bread fresh. The problem was that while there, she would see the blueberry and cherry turnovers at $1.75 each, the bearclaws at $1.75 each, the stromboli’s at $6.00 per half loaf, and the cannolis at $2.25 each, etc., resulting in an exorbitant tab, not to mention exorbitant calories.

Best of all, this bread only requires ten to twelve minutes of mixing and kneading. Carole sweats to the oldies while preparing, burning calories away in the process.

Also a trip to the bakery consumes much more time, while often the French bread is not available at the bakery; however, these ingredients are always on hand at your home.

INGREDIENTS:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (129 degrees)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal

DIRECTIONS:

Add one cup of warm water to large mixing bowl. Check temperature to make certain it is one hundred and twenty-nine (129) degrees. Carole uses her Polder electronic meat thermometer for precision accuracy in temperature. If water is too cool, the yeast won’t activate; if too hot, the yeast will die.  Results may vary given the accuracy of your thermometer.

Add one package of active dry yeast to water, stir with wooden spool to dissolve.

Once dissolved, add two (2) tablespoons of sugar and stir again.

Let  mixture sit at least twenty minutes until a foam covers the top.

Now add two (2) tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and one-and-a-half (1 1/2) teaspoons of salt. Stir a couple of times.

Add two cups of flour and stir until incorporated.

Now turn mixture onto a floured cutting board. Knead and add remaining flour as needed.

Knead for three (3) or four (4) minutes, and then let sit for four (4) or five (5) minutes.

Then knead for another eight (8) to ten (10) minutes.

Place in large mixing bowl and coat dough thinly but entirely with olive oil. Turn dough so its entire surface gets lightly coated.

Cover with plastic wrap and a couple of dish towels, place in a warm area, and forget about it for one-and-a-half (1 1/2) hours.

Punch it down, cover again, and let sit for another one-half (1/2) hour.

Roll out on cutting board, cut dough in half, and roll out in lengths and widths of approximately fourteen inches (14″) by two inches (2″).

Place loaves on a cornmeal coated baking sheet. Cover and let rise for another one-half (1/2) hour.

Slice tops diagonally four (4) to five (5) times.

Place in a pre-heated three hundred and fifty (350) degree oven.

Mist bread in oven with a water sprayer four (4) to five (5) times during the first five (5) minutes of baking in order to create a crispy crust.

Let bake from twenty-five (25) to thirty (30) minutes until tapping the bottom of bread sounds  hollow.

Cool loaves on rack, if you can keep everybody away from eating them.

Enjoy!  I love the slightly sweet taste from the sugar and the dense but light texture of the bread.

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Entry Filed under: Italian,Recipes

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