Bread is always a crowd pleaser at my house, especially soft white bread still warm from the oven, smeared with salted butter. While I love hearty whole wheat loaves and crusty sourdough, sometimes a simple loaf of soft white bread is just what a meal needs. This bread is everything that it should be; soft and tender and delicious, you really can't go wrong.
The instructions for this bread are a little different than most. There is a little kneading, and then 6 cycles of a 10 minute rest followed by 10 seconds of stirring. Very different than most breads I make, but it seemed to work just fine. Then just shape, let rise, and bake!
Simple French Bread
- 2 1/4 cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 5 1/2 - 6 cups flour
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water sugar and yeast. . Add the salt, oil and 3 cups of flour and mix. Add in 2 1/2 to 3 more cups of flour gradually. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too sticky but it should still be soft. Knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft.
Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes and then stir it down (turn on your mixer for 10 seconds or use a wooden spoon to stir down the dough) and then allow to rest another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times. Then turn the dough onto a lightly greased surface and divide into two equal parts. Roll each part into a 9X13-inch rectangle. Roll the dough up starting from the long edge and pinch the seam to seal. Arrange seam side down on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the second part of dough. Place it on the baking sheet leaving room for both loaves (or use a second baking sheet for the second loaf). Cover with greased plastic wrap and let the loaves rise until doubled in size.
With a very sharp knife cut 3 or 4 gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and baked through.