French bread just needs to be homemade. The stuff in the store is so… airy. This is worth the effort! I first learned to make French bread in 4-H foods class. It’s best eaten fresh, but makes fabulous toast and French toast a day or two later!
Easy French Bread
- 7-7½ cups unbleached flour (I usually use 2-3 cups white whole wheat flour in there.)
- 2 packages (about 4½-5 teaspoons) yeast
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- 2½ cups very warm water
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 egg white
In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add butter to warm water; stir until melted. Add to the dry ingredients.
Beat on low until combined, then beat for 3 minutes at a high speed.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rice until double. Punch down and divide in half. Let dough rest 10 minutes.
Roll each half into a rectangle. Roll up tightly (like you would cinnamon rolls); seal well. Taper ends and turn them under.
Place each loaf diagonally, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet, sprinkled with cornmeal. Gash tops diagonally.
Beat the egg white until foamy. Add 1 Tablespoon water to egg white. Brush tops and sides of loaves. Cover; let rise until double.
Put a shallow dish (I use a pie pan) of water on the bottom oven rack. Bake the bread on the next shelf at 375° for 20 minutes.
Brush again with egg white and bake 20 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.
*** French bread is a delicious side for Italian dishes, tastes great along with soups (especially stews) and makes the best toast ever!