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Simply Perfect Homemade French Bread

Servings: 2 loaves

Prep time: 01:20

Cook time: 00:20

By: Kara Parnell

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”  - James Beard

Is there a smell on this earth, more perfect than baking bread? Warm. homemade bread, fresh out of the oven, smothered with butter and strawberry jam, borders on the sublime. 

So, why do we settle for Wonder bread, when homemade bread is superiour in taste, texture, and nutrition? Maybe it's because homemade bread can be intimidating? Kneading, rising, baking...the process is so involved and time-consuming, and what if it turns out rock hard or flavourless? I used to think that homemade bread was just for experienced cooks, with lots of extra time on their hands, until I came across this recipe 20 years ago, and my life changed forever.

This recipe is perfect in its simplicity. Just 6 ingredients, combined together to make a perfect, fool-proof loaf. This dough couldn't be easier to make, and is so versatile! I use this dough not only for amazing French bread, but also for pizza crust, rolls, hamburger buns, and cinnamon rolls. 

So, skip the Wonder bread my friends, and fill your home with the smell of freshly baked bread. You can do it!

Photo Credit: Arifarca from Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C. warm water, divided
  • 2 T. active dry yeast
  • 2 T. honey
  • 6 C. flour, plain or whole wheat, (or 3 C. plain, 3 C. whole wheat)
  • 1 T. salt
  • 5 T. olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
  2. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 C. warm water, yeast, and honey, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine 2 C. warm water, 3 C. of the flour, salt, and olive oil.
  4. Add in yeast mixture and stir.
  5. Add remaining 3 C. of flour.
  6. Use a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook, a large spoon, or your hands, to bring the dough together.
  7. The dough will be slightly sticky. Place dough on a floured surface, and knead for about a minute, until dough becomes smooth.
  8. Put a couple of T. of olive oil in the mixing bowl, and place the dough back in the bowl, turning it a few times to coat in the oil.
  9. Place a damp dishtowel over the bowl and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Knead the dough again for 1 minute, and return to bowl to rest for 5-10 more minutes.
  11. Repeat this knead a rest process, 5 times.
  12. Split the dough in half, and shape it into long French bread loaves.
  13. Using a sharp knife, make 3 slits across the top of the loaves.
  14. Let loaves rise for 20 minutes.
  15. Bake for 20 minutes, or until loaves are golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped.

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