This is probably the most inexpensive bread I make because of its simple, short ingredient list…water, salt, sugar, and flour. Water and salt are practically free, a tablespoon of sugar costs pennies, and flour isn’t very pricey either.
This recipe is not going to turn out artisanal loaves that rival what you’d get in a French bakery…this bread is more like a heartier version of what you’d buy in your local supermarket.
If you’d like to make your loaves more nutritious, you can substitute whole wheat flour for part of the white flour(I wouldn’t sub more than 50% of it, personally).
I use this bread recipe quite often…we eat the loaves when they’re fresh and hot, I use the dough to make bread bowls, and I make panini sandwiches, French Bread pizzas, and garlic bread with extra loaves. Because of this, I rarely make one loaf! It’s just as easy to make two, and then you can freeze one to use later.
Since the dough has very little sweetening and no added fat(both of which act as preservatives), you’ll want to use or freeze your bread within a few days to prevent mold.
Easy French Bread(a less picture-heavy version is here, for easier printing)
Makes one loaf
2 1/4-2 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pkg(2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water(120 degrees F)
In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine 1.5 cups flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast.
Add water and beat for 3 minutes.
Beat in enough additional flour to make a soft but kneadable dough.
Turn dough out onto floured surface…
and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Place in bowl, cover with tea towel, and let rise 45 minutes(an hour if your house is cold).
Punch dough down and roll into a long rectangular shape. Starting from the long end, roll up jelly-roll style.
Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled. How long this takes will depend on the climate of your house.(the loaves below are obviously not risen yet).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk one egg white with one tablespoon of water until slightly foamy. Using a pastry brush, gently brush beaten egg white onto loaves. Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slashes on top of the loaf.
These loaves a bit over-risen…I got busy doing something else and forgot about them. Oops.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.