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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

French Bread

I've baked one or more loaves of bread almost day for years. Over the years I have tweaked and developed recipes to get the desired effect. I mentioned in yesterday's post that baking bread is very frugal. Not only are homemade breads less expensive but because you control the ingredients, the resulting bread is more flavourful. Even specialty breads can be made at home for a fraction of the cost of store bought. Contrary to some beliefs, when using either the breadmaker or KitchenAid® stand mixer breadmaking is quite easy.

Homemade breads do not contain preservatives and for that reason will not keep as long as many store bought breads. While bread is best hot as most of us know it should be cooled on a rack before storing. This will prevent the bread from getting soggy on the bottom and will also soften the crust. Wrap the bread well with plastic wrap. This method will keep the bread nice for a couple of days. Breads made using milk and/or oil will keep for about four days. Once the bread has been cut, I like to vacuum seal any remaining bread in a FoodSaver® vacuum sealed canister. This will extend shelf storage time by a couple of days. Any bread that feels not as fresh during storage can be ground for homemade breadcrumbs then frozen or cubed for homemade croutons.

French Bread

I made a couple of loaves of French bread yesterday. Not only does it have a nice flavour, the shape lends itself well for making submarine or party sandwiches and it is the bread of choice for cutting on a diagonal to make garlic bread or bruschetta. One of our favourite ways to use French bread is to cut on a diagonal and lightly grill either indoors or outdoors. Served topped with a little butter it makes a lovely toast. Add a bit of homemade jam or honey and it is a nice complement to morning coffee made with fresh ground beans!

French Bread
modified for stand mixer

1 ½ c water
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp organic sugar
1 ½ tsp sea salt
4 c unbleached flour
1 ¾ tsp instant yeast

Combine butter and dry in the mixing bowl. Attach spiral dough hook to the mixer. Mix on speed 2 for about a minute. Slowly pour in the water while continuing mixing on speed 2 until the dough cleans the side of the bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough hook. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot to rise until doubled. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Shape each half into a long, smooth rope shape. Place both on a parchment lined baking sheet sprinkled with a little cornmeal (optional). Cover with parchment paper and top with a tea towel. Allow the bread to rise until double. Bake at 400ºF (200ºC) until golden brown.
Yield: 2 loaves

2 food lovers commented:

utenzi said...

I like to make bread too but I've not noticed any big money savings when I do so. That yeast is the expensive part. Maybe if I bought it in bulk...

The picture of your bread looks quite yummy!

Garden Gnome said...

I buy most of my ingredients in bulk including yeast. Sam's Club sells 2 lb of Fleishman's yeast for $2.99. Most recipes for 2 loaves under 2 tbsp (1 tbsp = 1 pk yeast) so this works out to a very economical solution. Flours can also be bought it bulk but flour is still one of the most expensive ingredients in home made breads.