One of my favorite Christmas presents last year was the book Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. Using that method, I baked bread semi-regularly for the first part of 2010, but I forgot about it somewhere amidst the drama. Now I want to get back in the habit! There's something very satisfying about baking bread...it makes me feel extra womanly and pioneer-like. :) Plus, the results are delicious and healthy.
I came across this recipe yesterday through a series of links. The original poster wasn't even sure where she had gotten it, but the "no-fail" in the title caught my attention. I also sort of liked the fact that it didn't adhere to HBI5MAD regulations, so I could try something new! The bread turned out fantastically. I had two big slices with lots of butter, after dinner, and it was hard not to eat an entire loaf. I'm excited to serve it when I have my family over for vegetable lasagna tonight.
This recipe was too scattery for my taste (it originally had like 18 steps), so I edited to make it clearer and more efficient. :)
No-Fail French Bread
Makes 3 small-medium loaves.
1 Tbsp shortening
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup each boiling and cold water
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp yeast (one packet, if you use packets)
4 ½ - 6 cups flour
1. Dissolve the yeast into the lukewarm water - stir until mixed.
2. Combine the salt, shortening, and sugar in the bottom of a mixer with a fork.
3. Pour the boiling water into the mixer over the shortening mixture, then add the cold water.
4. Pour the water-yeast mixture into the mixer. Start the mixer on low (use the dough hook attachment) and begin adding flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixer. (For me it took 5 cups - 3 whole-wheat and 2 white.) Mix on high for 8 minutes, then cover and let the dough rise for about 20 minutes. You will probably want to keep an eye on the mixer while it's running, as mine almost took a dive off the counter a few times.
5. Separate the dough into three parts and place on a large greased jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Let sit for about 5 minutes – this will make it MUCH easier to shape.
6. Roll the dough out into a large-ish rectangle shape, then fold over twice each way - lengthwise and horizontally. This will create a little rectangular bundle of dough. Turn the loaf so the seam side is down. Repeat these steps with the other 2 parts of dough.
7. Make an egg wash by whisking the egg until frothy.
8. With a knife spritzed with cooking spray, cut three diagonal slits in the top of each loaf. Cover with egg wash, being sure to get it into all of the slits.
9. Place loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.
10. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees, not removing loaves from the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty.
11. Turn the oven down to 350 and rotate the pan. Bake for another 10 minutes. Cool loaves on a cooling rack.