French Bread (and an essential outing)

I broke my “not going to the store” self-imposed ban on April 20.  I got up early and went to our local grocery store.   I hadn’t been there for about a month.

 VIRTUAL HUGS FOR EVERYONE!

Face coverings were required for entry.   The deli and butcher counters were shuttered.   There were one-way arrows on the aisles (that I didn’t even realize until I was about half-way through shopping).   There was no toilet paper or paper towels, and no flour.   In an effort to make shelves look not so bare, the store was locating things in weird spots—like beer where there used to be a selection of cheeses and yogurts.  (It was really hard not to binge buy.   “I don’t need peanut butter but it looks like it’s scarce.  We don’t need coffee, but when will I be able to get back?”  Those kind of thoughts kept running through my mind.)

Because I was sporting my mask, I went to the post office to send some books to my bestie.  (We trade after reading.)   Again, there were marks on the floor where to stand, the clerks were behind sheets of plastic, and the credit card readers were about three feet away from the counter.  (I applaud them for trying to keep their employees safe.)

I swung by Target just because it was on the way (and because I had my mask).  There, I was able to find bread flour (and regular flour), toilet paper and paper towels.  (It also freaked me out, though, that the Easter cards were still on display.  It made me pause to think what actual date it was.  It all runs together now.)

I am set on flour but I cannot find any whole wheat flour (which I use often).   I did see that you could buy some in bulk on Amazon for something like $4-5 a lb.  What?

But, enough about my outing.

Because I at least found bread flour, I came home and started some French bread.

Besides, I had told The Hubs I was cleaning out the freezer and I thought I had tomato sauce and Italian sausages frozen.   I found some ancient Italian sausages that we grilled up and some equally ancient tomato sauce from many summers ago.    The least I could do was make something new and fresh like bread.

I’m still highlighting cookbooks (at least once a week) from my extensive collection.  (Yes, I’m a hoarder.)

My grandmother belonged to her local Home Extension Club for many, many years.   Every time a new cookbook was published, my sister and I got one for birthdays or Christmas.   This recipe was found in A Taste of Oklahoma (1990 from the Oklahoma Extension Homemakers).

These books contain recipes from fellow homemakers around the state.  They are all homey and comforting.  There were two or three French bread recipes listed in the book but I just went with the first one listed.  I’m glad I did.

 

French Bread

Arlene Behring, Payne County (found in A Taste of Oklahoma)

Published 1990

This is a pretty easy bread to adapt to more modern directions. I’ve added notes to the ingredients below and updated the instructions.

Ingredients

  • 1/4. c. warm water
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1 pkg. yeast (or 2 1/4 t. bulk yeast)
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1 1/2 T. margarine (I used butter.)
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 3 – 3 1/2 c. flour (I used bread flour.)

Instructions

  1. In a one cup liquid measuring cup, mix warm water, 1 t. sugar, and yeast. Let it bubble and foam while you mix up the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve salt, 2 T. sugar, and butter in the boiling water. After butter is melted, attach the dough hook and slowly add 1 cup of flour. Set aside to cool. (I placed a shallow ice filled bowl under my mixing bowl to speed the process along a bit.)

    Ice bowl in the left; plastic wrap-covered rise on the right.

    When cooled, add one more cup of flour and the yeast mixture. Mix well still using the dough hook. Finish adding remaining flour (1 – 1 1/2 cup) a spoonful at a time while still kneading the bread with the dough hook.

  3. When the dough comes together in a ball, cover the mixing bowl loosely with plastic wrap while leaving the dough hook in place. Set two timers: one for 60 minutes and one for 10 minutes. Beat the dough down every 10 minutes with the dough hook, 6-7 times during the first rise.
  4. After one hour, turn the dough out to a floured surface. Roll out 1/2 inch thick. Roll up like a jelly-roll and pinch the edges and the ends. Place on a large lined baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or a silpat) seam-side down. Using a good serated knife, slash the top 6-8 times.

    Don’t judge my silpat.

  5. Let rise for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 1 loaf

The result is a very soft bread with a great texture.   This is a keeper of a recipe.  

This is another in my Cookbook of the Week series (which has sometimes turned into twice a week).   I will make this bread again and again until I run out of bread flour.  I want to try replacing the sugar with honey next time.  (I did buy another bottle of local honey while I was out.  🙂  )

I’m linking up with Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking.  

And, I have to say, baking bread out of a book my grandmother gave me was quite comforting and relaxing after a somewhat scary foray out into the world.

Stay safe and be well!

10 comments to French Bread (and an essential outing)

  • That baguette looks perfect! I love the golden crust :-))
    We also have to wear mask when we want to go shopping or take public transportation from Monday on.

  • Glenda

    Have you looked at the price of yeast? I usually buy a large bag at Sams for under 5 dollars. I noticed it is about $30 a bag now and higher. I have some on hand but may have to go to sourdough.
    Good looking french bread Deb.
    Your nephews keep requesting fresh bread. Made them biscuits last night. More bagels on order for this coming week.

  • Mae

    Very beautiful loaf! By French law, it wouldn’t be French bread, which is permitted to be made with flour, water, salt, and yeast only — no other ingredients. Of course that’s not important if it’s a good recipe!

    In the last several years bread baking has become so much more popular than it was when that cookbook was compiled, but this shows how it’s always been a good thing to make your own bread.

    be well… mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    • This bread is so soft and not crusty like a true “French” bread. It’s still a favorite, though. There’s lots of yeast bread recipes in this retro book. (I hate saying that 1990 is retro!)

  • Love French bread, and yours looks terrific. Good job! And it must have been fun to have visited a grocery store again! I can’t remember the last time we were there. Delivery has a lot of good points, but I miss not being able to buy my own produce.

  • I liked your telling of your outing to shop. It’s the same in the area where I live. The post office had a makeshift plastic covering, it’s a shower curtain!
    We wear masks when we have to shop, same thing… one way aisles. It’s like living in an apocalyptic book.

    Bread looks great.

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