Photographer, scrapbooker, now a non baker with a Crusty French Bread recipe. This week’s focus is Creativity in our lives as busy moms. Cindy Dudas of Whatever Works started a new blog recently called What the heck’s a bon bon?, focused on her recipes. If you’re friends with Cindy on Facebook, you’ve seen the amazing recipes she shares. She’s all I-just-whipped-this-up. And, we’re all Dude-Can-we-come-over-now?
Baking has never been my strongest cooking suit. I have always done better with a boxed mix than making anything from scratch. In fact, I prefer to leave the baking to the professionals and stick to my colorful omelets, garlicky pasta dishes and other savory concoctions.
In fact, I LOVE cooking. I always have. My mom always experimented with cooking and kept me in the loop from a very early age. I can remember scouring together through her cookbooks to find the perfect recipe to try almost every week. But the funny thing was we almost never followed a recipe to a T. We liked to put our own spins on everything we tried.
That type of cooking has carried me over into the way I cook for my own family. I like to take recipes and twist them around to better suit my family’s likes and dislikes. Some things turn out pretty good! Others don’t. But the ones that we like end up on my blog What the heck’s a bonbon? where I decided to take all those concoctions from my brain and formulate a semblance of recipes for others to read, modify, and enjoy on their own.
But getting back to baking..? As stated before, it’s definitely not my strongest suit.
However, after trying several different types of bread from bakeries, I found that spending upwards of $10 on a good loaf was just not worth it. I figured it was time to test my skills and attempt baking my own. So I pulled out my grandma’s old Women’s Club cookbook and started trying out recipes. I ended up mixing a few of the recipes together to come up with this one.
Crusty French Bread
- 1 envelope active dry yeast, preferably Red Star
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 TB sugar
- 4 cups King Arthur bread flour (keep an extra cup on hand)
- 2 tsp salt
- In a mixing bowl, soften yeast in warm water and stir in sugar. Combine flour and salt & add all at once to yeast mixture.
- Using the kneading attachment on your mixer, mix until dough forms. If it looks a bit thin, add some more flour by the Tbsp and mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Let the dough rise in the bowl for about 2 hours or until it doubles in size. Punch it down and knead on a floured board (you will need a lot of flour) until smooth.
- Grease either two small casserole pans or one large one; either divide the dough into two pans or make one big loaf for the one pan. Let the dough rise about 45 minutes.
- For a rustic looking loaf, do not slice the top. For a more uniformed loaf, make a slice in the top before putting it into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
This bread is so delicious, we like to eat it right out of the oven with butter on top. It is rare that a loaf makes it all the way to dinner time. But when it does, we like to use it to make paninis like this one:
Grilled flank steak with arugula, sautéed peppers, onions & mushrooms
Once we have had our fill of bread for the day, I like to cut it up into small cubes, toss it with some garlic powder, parmesan and salt. I then bake the cubes in a very low 250° oven until they are crispy. I let them cool and then store them in a bag to use as croutons the rest of the week.
Hope you like it!
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