A Classic Crusty Bread Without Too Much Effort
The very term "French bread" conjures images of early-morning French bakers, elbows in flour, endlessly kneading dough between risings until they produce exquisitely formed loaves with a perfectly crisp but pliable crust, just in time for their first customers at store's opening.
If this is not you, however, you still have options for baking a delicious loaf of French bread. Forget the hours of kneading – this recipe requires none of that and only two short risings.
Total Time: 2 to 3 hours | Prep Time: 15 minutes | Serves: 6
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, divided
- 2 teaspoons salt
Active Dry Yeast 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110F to 120F) Oil for baking sheets
- In a food processor, combine 3 1/2 cups flour, salt and yeast.
- Turn on the machine, then pour about 1 cup water through the tube.
- Process the mixture until it becomes doughy; i.e., add enough water to form a still-sticky but firm ball of dough. This should take just a minute or so – no need to actually knead it.
- Place dough into a bowl, cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let rise for at least one hour.
Punch down the dough, and
spread some flour onto a counter. 6. Place the dough onto the counter and form into either one large or two small loaves. Just shape it with your hands into an elongated, baguette-like shape, or use a rolling pin to roll it somewhat flat, then roll it up like a tootsie roll into a narrow loaf. If the dough sticks to your hands, add flour as you shape. 7. Place the formed loaf (or loaves) on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with a cloth or oiled plastic and let rise for about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the warmth of your kitchen. While rising, heat the oven to 400F.
8. With a sharp knife, make a few slices in the top of the loaf (or loaves), and place into the oven, reducing the heat to 375F. 9. Bake until a warm, golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Lynne Pettus has worked in the communications field for more than 20 years, most recently as a technical writer and editor in the software industry. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from USC.