>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010
One of the recipes I get asked about the most often is my homemade French Bread recipe. This recipe is SO easy and so light and airy. Baking this bread at the high temperature of 450 also gives this bread a crispy outer layer and keeps the inside soft and tender. This bread also can be made and the extra loaves frozen for later. Serve this bread with any pasta dish, turn it into garlic cheese bread, or use as a sandwich like I did below.
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Here is the French Bread recipe (this amount makes 2 loaves):
2 1/2 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
3 T. sugar
2 T. white vinegar
Add these ingredients together and let sit until bubbly
1 T. salt
1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil
7-7 1/2 c. flour (use enough flour to make the dough workable on the counter, not too sticky, but not too dry--somewhere between 7 and 7 1/2 c. is just right)
In a mixer add the water, yeast, sugar, vinegar, and 3 c. of the flour. Mix until combined. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until bubbly and foamy. Add the oil, salt, and remaining flour and knead for 5 minutes. Once the dough is combined and has been kneaded, let the bowl and dough sit on the counter until it doubles in size. You can also do the quick method by putting the bowl in your oven on the bottom shelf with a small pot of boiling water. This will help the dough stay soft and rise more quickly. Either method will work great. Once the dough has risen to the top of the bowl, punch it down and let it rise again. You can do this as many times as you have time for (one is only needed though). The more times you punch down your dough, the more air bubbles your bread will have.
Put the dough on a greased counter top and divide into 2 sections. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal on the bottom of the sheet. Roll the dough balls into long rectangle shapes. Slash the tops of the loaves bread 3-5 times. Let rise 30 minutes (or until doubled). Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes-until top of bread is golden brown.
Now that you have this AMAZING French Bread recipe you need to try this loaded sandwich. I got this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs and it was de-licious!! It was shown as an appetizer, and that is what I used it for, but it could easily be made for a quick week night meal. Here is my version of the recipe (I made a few changes):
Loaded French Bread
1 loaf french bread, cut in half lengthwise (This mixture for me actually made two loaves worth)
1/2 stick butter, softened (not melted)
2 heaping Tbsp. Mayonnaise (stick with the real stuff, not low-fat)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese (or you could use more mozzarella)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 can olives, sliced
20 slices pepperoni, chopped
1 c. mushrooms, sliced, then roughly chopped
2-3 green onions, sliced and chopped
1/2 c. sliced banana peppers (these were my favorite part of the sandwich--the vinegar taste of the pepper was perfect in this mixture)
1 c. grape tomatoes (or regular), cut in half
Garlic powder, basil, Italian seasoning, etc. as desired
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients (except for the bread) using a spatula or wooden spoon.
When everything is mixed together really well, spread the mixture evenly over the bread and bake at 325-degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is slightly crispy. Cut up into individual slices and serve.