Easy French Bread
2 TBSP yeast
5 TBSP oil
2 ½ cups warm water
1 TBSP salt
2 TBSP sugar
6 cups white flour
1. Mix all ingredients together and knead in a mixer (like a Bosch or Kitchen Aid) for 10 minutes. You can do it by hand with a bowl and spoon, but just add half of the flour at first and stir for a while until the "batter" seems smooth. Then add in more flour and mix until it gets too difficult to stir by spoon. Dump it out onto a floured surface and knead in the remaining of the flour. I actually do not ever exactly measure the flour. I know I have enough flour when the dough is no longer really sticky, but be careful to not add too much. You do not want the dough to be stiff or dry. A little less flour is better than too much!
2. Let the dough rise in the bowl until doubled. Punch down. (I usually cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out.)
3. Divide and form into 2 french loaves. (Or you can braid it!) Cut top of loaves three times with a serrated knife. You can also brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
4. Let rise until double - 30 mins or so. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 °. (Shorter for a soft crust, longer for a thick and chewy crust.)
*You can also put balls of this dough on a cookie sheet to make “Bread Bowls”. Once baked, cut out center of round loaf and pour in a creamy soup. Make the Bread Bowls any size you want.
*People love to receive this as a gift, especially the braided bread below!
Here is how I form the loaves:
Then put it on a baking sheet and cut the top of the loaf, and let it rise.
If you want to braid it, divide one half of the dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll out each piece with your hands into a long skinny "snake". Pinch the ends together, or start braiding it however you can. I often have to rebraid it because I get messed up a bit, like in the picture below. I eventually got it right. : ) Pinch the ends together and tuck them under and try to make it pretty. Even if it's not perfect, it will still look pretty and taste delicious!