French Bread

Have you ever tried working with yeast, but been afraid to even try?  I love to make a random yeast recipe when the weather is bad and there's nothing on my calendar.  This recipe comes together with the ease of a food processor.  Your family will love the fresh baked bread aroma coming from the kitchen and you will be amazed at how easy it is to bake with yeast.  Buy 2 packets of yeast, because this recipe will have you wanting to try it again!  Oh yeah, and don't forget the butter!  This recipe is adapted from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.



2 1/2 tsp. of active dry yeast

1/2 tsp. granulated sugar

2/3 cup lukewarm water (105 to 115 degrees F)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup unbleached bread flour

1/2 cup semolina flour

2 tsp. salt

1 cup cool water (80 degrees F)

Yellow cornmeal for sprinkling

1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp. water, for glaze


In a 2-cup liquid measure, pour in the warm water.  Stir the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water.  Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature about 10 minutes.

In the work bowl of the food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine the all-purpose, bread and semolina flours with the salt.  With the motor running, immediately pour the yeast mixture and the cool water through the feed tube in a steady stream as fast as the flour mixture will absorb it.  After the dough forms a soft, elastic ball and clears the sides of the bowl, process 45 to 60 seconds more to knead.  If the dough is too sticky, add flour by the tablespoonful.  If it's too dry, add water by the teaspoonful.

Using a plastic dough scraper (if you have one) or a rubber spatula would work, transfer the dough ball to a clean work surface.  Give a few kneads by hand to even out the dough consistency.

Place the dough in a lightly greased container and turn once to grease the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.  The dough can be refrigerated overnight.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.  Shape the dough into baguettes by dividing the dough into 4 equal portions.  Flatten each into a thin 10 x 5 inch rectangle using the palm of your hand.  Starting at the long end, tightly roll the dough using your thumbs to guide you all the way down the loaf.  Keep rolling until all the dough is rolled into a baguette shape.  Tuck the ends under and place the dough seam side down on parchment that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  Once all loaves are formed, cover them loosely with either a towel or plastic wrap and let them rest at room temperature until tripled in bulk, approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of all the loaves with the egg glaze.  Using a sharp knife, slash the surface a few times diagonally across the top, no more than 1/2 inch deep.  Bake the baguettes for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped with your finger.  Transfer to a cooling rack, eat the bread warm, or within the next few days.  Enjoy!