And now for something completely different. . .
I’m going to share my family’s secret recipe for Yankee French Bread. Actually, I found this recipe in GQ, of all places years ago and have used it ever since. It’s super easy and gives you a wonderful, dense, slightly sour loaf that keeps well in a grocery store plastic bag. Mmmmmmm. . .
7 Cups Flour
1 Tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon of quick rise yeast (I use regular active yeast most of the time and that works fine as well)
2 Cups of water
You can make this in a food processor, in a mixer (preferably a Kitchen Aid with the dough hook), or if you have really big biceps, by hand. Whatever the way, the instructions are the same. Mix the dry ingredients, add water slowly while running the machine, or mixing by hand. The dough should be kind of sticky. I often add more water than the recipe calls for. Once mixed, knead until the dough is smooth and elastic – by hand on a floured surface if using a food processor or mixing by hand. With the dough hook if using a Kitchen Aid mixer.
Put the dough in a large plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a plastic grocery bag) and drape with a towel. Let sit in a room which is at least 68 degrees overnight (or at least 8 hours).
To bake, preheat oven to 450. Work the dough into 3 loaves on a floured surface. I find it easiest to pat the dough out into a rectangle, cut three strips and gently stretch each strip to the desired length and width. Place the loaves on a baking sheet covered with cornmeal. Don’t place them too close together – they do expand while baking. Cover the loaves with a towel and let sit for 10 minutes.
Place a pie pan with hot water on the bottom shelf of the oven. Put baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake for another 10 minutes.
That’s it! Yum.
We have actually put the flour, salt and yeast mixture into bags and given them as gifts with instructions to add water, knead, rest and bake. We just found nice bags, used a decorative ribbon to tie them, put the instructions on a fancy looking gift tag and no one would know that they cost pennies to make.