Homemade French Loaf
I spent all day today dreaming about last night’s sandwich. There is an Italian deli across the street where many of my coworkers go for lunch, coming back with rolls and subs that, while they don’t compare to homemade bread, are readily available and at your desk in 5 minutes. I definitely had food envy at lunchtime. Why did I not eat only half of my sandwich and bring the rest to work today? (Well, that’s because it was delicious! And I was hungry…) Or better yet, why did I not make more of that bread?!
The bread I made last night was my first foray into baking with yeast, unless you count watching Z make pizza crust or the Gluten Free Pantry bread I made from a box two years ago. With the sun setting out of my kitchen window and Lost playing on my laptop (yes, I am addicted to Lost. I am watching it for the first time from the beginning, and stopping an episode in order to cook is out of the question. How people went weeks in between episodes blows my mind) it was the perfect late afternoon to do some baking.
The loaf I chose was a french bread recipe I found on Recipezaar. I was expecting an outcome like a crusty French baguette, one that would go perfectly with my favorite type of meal of bread, pate, wine and cheese. I’m not quite sure if that is what the recipe meant, so I don’t know if my bread is exactly what it was supposed to be or if I totally messed it up. Either way, what was most important is that it tasted great, and worked extremely well as a panini bread rather than a crunchy loaf.
This all may have turned out differently if I:
A) Owned a french bread pan (who knew?!) I wasn’t quite sure the length or width the bread should be, so I just made it up.
B) I had any idea what french bread dough is supposed to look like. The dough was quite thin and sticky; the mix clumped when I poured the yeast into my food processor, but then didn’t mix well when I added the rest of the liquid, so I ended up using my hands to separate the dough ball before processing some more. From the description in the recipe to “spoon the dough” onto the baking pan I thought this was ok…but maybe I was wrong.
Or C) May or may not have allowed the bread to raise long enough. While the yeast bubbled into an insane foam, the dough didn’t change much after 25 minutes of rising, and remained the same height after I put it in the oven.
Any way, the bread was delish, flavorful with a great texture. The gluten free vs. gluten judge Z confirmed that it was a good bake. Whether it turned out correctly or not, though, we will never know 🙂
1.5 cups flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix)
1.3 teaspoons xanthan gum
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
Preheat oven to 400*. Grease and flour a cookie sheet.
Blend the flour, xanthan gum, and salt in a stand mixer or food processor.
In a bowl, dissolve the sugar in the water and add the yeast. Let foam for 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, egg whites, and vinegar.
Turn on the flour mixer, then add the yeast followed by the butter and eggs. Blend for 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the dough into a loaf shape onto the cookie sheet. Slash diagonally every few inches. Cover and put in a warm place for 25 minutes.
Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the crust is golden and a knife comes out clean.
Even though it was a bit flat, this dough was still incredibly fluffy and light. The perfect panini bread, without the necessity of a grill. I would love to have a stash of this in my freezer, ready to pull out whenever I am in the mood for a sandwich. Next time I will play around a bit with the yeast and letting the dough rise longer, but for now this was the perfect bread for my faux cheesesteaks.
Have you used yeast before? Have you made bread without a bread maker?