I am not big on cooking in the summer! Living in the mid-west it gets pretty humid, and I simply have no time to sweat-it-out any more than I have to. I eat lots of salads because I shop at my local farmers markets incessantly. One of the few exceptions is this simple to make bread recipe... I love fresh bread with my salads. Just ask Duane and Brandon, [check the archive for Oxtail Soup.] I make a mean salad and this bread is the perfect accompaniment for any home cooked meal.
My Easiest French Bread
2 packages active dry yeast [1/4 ounce each]
2-1/2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons oil [use anything: I use extra virgin olive oil]
2 teaspoons salt
6-6-1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, oil, salt and 4 cups of flour; beat until smooth. Add enough remaining flour to form a smooth dough. Turn onto a floured board; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to oil the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. This should take about an hour. Punch down. Divide in half. Roll each half of the dough into a 15-inch x 10-inch rectangle. Roll up from the long side.; seal well. Place the seam side down on a lightly greased cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Beat egg white with water; brush loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Using a very sharp knife, [I use a single edged razor] make four shallow diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. YIELD: 2 LOAVES
Variations: If you want to add things such as fresh or dried herbs, roasted whole cloves of garlic, cheese, or whatever else you fancy; add these ingredients when you add the first batch of flour. Try using fresh herbs, really great speciality salts, exotic spices, or any seeds you have to put on the top of the bread before you bake-off the loaves. Be creative and do whatever you want!
Note:If you enjoy home-made bread this is a great recipe to start out with. Don't be discouraged! The ingredients are inexpensive, so it really doesn't matter if you loose a loaf or two!