Easiest French Bread Ever

Hot from the oven. Let cool before cutting or tear into hunks immediately.

Hot from the oven. Let cool before cutting or tear into hunks immediately.

RED ALERT NOTE! This was originally published with the wrong flour measurement. It is corrected here, and please accept my sincere apologies for the gluteny messes that ensued from mistake.  I owe y’all some bread flour!

The title says it all. If you are intimidated by the thought of making bread, but you really like the idea of busting out homemade bread, start here! It is a no knead bread that takes way less time than other bread recipes, and, like the very best friends, is totally low maintenance. You can cut the second rise time,  leave it in the loaf pans way too long, manhandle it into the unruliest looking loaves imaginable and it still turns out tasty. And whose going to complain about looks when you bring fresh bread? That’s right–nobody!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp EACH sugar, salt (a little less) and instant yeast
  • 3 cups very warm water

Method:

Mix in large bowl—it’ll be really wet so you only have to use a wooden spoon.  Mix until [wet] ball forms. Don’t waste time over mixing and do not knead.  Cover with towel and let rise about 1 1/2 hours.

rising-dough-french-bread

Dough is risen and ready to be punched/shaped.

French-loaves-rising
Very imperfect loaves rising in their pan

Sprinkle dough liberally with more flour. Punch down and divide the mass in ball-like halves. It’ll still be wet and will get your hands goopy. Grab one ball at a time and pull/shape/plop it onto a French bread loaf pan coated with non-stick spray (or give the ozone layer a break and just wipe it with some vegetable oil. Let loaves rise about another hour. If it overflows just fold the overflow back over the loaf. * Trust the process. It’ll be fine, though you may have funky shaped loaves the first few times.

French-bread-baked

Golden and delicious. Turn your back and there’s already a piece missing.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Bake about 20 minutes or until it’s deep golden brown. Let cool in pan and then gently pry it out with a small spatula or metal frosting spreader.

As mentioned above some of us have fudged the timing mightily— roughly wrestled over-risen loaves back in their place; cooked it too long or brought it partially baked and finished it by warming it at the place we are visiting. It’s always a hit. The only must is that you get the French or Italian bread pan. It’s a $20 investment that will change your life…or somebody else’s life if you give them a pan along with a freshly baked loaf. Mmmmmm–Good idea!

*At this point if you realize your math was off and what were you thinking–pick-up is in an hour!– just pop the pan in the fridge and come back to it.

Bring it!

Make it a double gift by bringing it in its own loaf pan (see above), or wrap it in a nice dishtowel and wedge it into the bag of whatever else is making the trip.

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