Have you ever noticed that the greatest things in the world are usually the simplest? Leonardo DaVinci said it better when he said “simplicity is the ultimate in sophistication.” Proof? French Bread. There really isn’t a whole lot in French Bread but there aren’t many things more incredible than a fresh loaf. I attempted to make Irish Soda Bread to go with my corned beef and cabbage to serve at our vestry retreat last Saturday. Unfortunately, the loaf turned out ugly and I refused to serve it. Don’t get me wrong, it tasted great but I don’t like to serve ugly food to people I’m bribing to do the hard work of a full-day vestry retreat. But French Bread? It’s fool proof, delicious, and gorgeous! Next time I’ll ignore that it is St. Patrick’s Day and serve the French bread anyway.
- 1 1/4 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
In bread machine pan, place the first five ingredients in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed, add olive oil).
When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.
Sprinkle a greased baking sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.
Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. With a sharp knife, make four shallow slashes across the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.