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The Practical Baker
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 • Posted December 9, 2009

5 Ingredient French Bread

This is a recipe that I gathered from the internet while looking for an entirely different recipe. It was one of those that caught my eye because it had only 5 ingredients and could be worked on in "time slices." Also, with 6 cups of flour, I figured it would make a lot of bread; and it does: 2 excellent loaves!

5 Ingredient French Bread

Linda Larsen; April, 2006

2 Packages dry yeast

2 ½ Cups warm water (90-110 degrees, and do check it with a thermometer so you don’t kill the yeast!)

1 Teaspoon sugar

6 Cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 ½ Teaspoon salt

Place your warm water into a large bowl, and sprinkle in the yeast and the sugar. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast dissolves and begins to bubble. Stir in 2 cups of the flour and add the salt. Cover, and let rise for about a half hour.

Gradually stir in the remaining 4 cups of flour, a little bit at a time, and make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. For those of you concerned about "getting into kneading," let me assure you that it really is not hard work. Indeed, if it becomes hard work, you’re working at it too hard! Press on the dough ball until it flattens a bit. Fold it into, and press the folded dough with the heels of your hands. Turn it 90 degrees, fold it over, and press it again. That’s all there is to it! You’re not trying to completely flatten the dough, so you don’t need all your weight applied to it. Nice and easy does it, at a slow pace. As soon as the dough feels elastic and sorta springs back at you, you’ve kneaded it enough.

Once kneaded, place the dough ball into a large bowl that you have liberally greased with shortening or stick butter. Roll the dough ball around so that it gets a bit of the lubricant all over it. This will prevent the top from cracking and also keep the plastic wrap cover from sticking to the top.

Let the covered dough rise for 2-2 ½ hours, until doubled in size. Using your fist, punch the dough down. Turn the bowl on its side and gently roll the dough ball out onto a floured surface. Divide the ball in half. Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, take each piece of dough and roll it out into a rectangle, measuring about 12 inches on one side, and 6 inches on the other. Starting on the 12 inch side, roll the dough up tightly. Seal the seam, edges and ends by pinching them.

Grease a large cookie sheet and sprinkle it with corn meal. Place the loaves on this prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap (spray the plastic wrap with a product like PAM to prevent sticking). Let the loaves rise again for about an hour, or until they’re doubled in size.

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray the loaves with a bit of water, then, using a very sharp knife, make a couple of slashes diagonally across each loaf. Place in the oven and set the timer, initially, for 25 minutes. Begin to watch it carefully after the first 20 or so minutes. Somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes, the loaves should be done and have turned a nice, golden brown. Place them on a wire rack to cool.

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