It’s threatening to snow today. This put me in the mood for some stew and homemade bread. Suddenly, I remembered my mom’s recipe for French bread. It’s so easy that it was the first bread I made as a child – meaning, it’s so easy that a child can make it. No kneading required.
FRENCH BREAD RECIPE
In a large bowl, add 1 packet of yeast to 1 1/2 cups of rather warm water .
The water will be hotter than you would make a baby’s bottle, but not so hot that it would make you say, “Ouch” to stick your hand in it. It feels warm, but not hot enough to make your hand turn red. Following me?
If you get the water too hot, you will kill the yeast. If it is too cool, the yeast will take a long time to grow – or won’t grow at all.
Man… I wish I could have you in my kitchen so I could let you feel it yourself. That’s how I learned. But my description ought to work. I thought about it when I was getting the water today – how could I describe how this feels to you?
Add 1 tablespoon sugar. (The sugar is required because yeast needs food to grow.)
Add 1 tablespoon shortening and gently stir. (Don’t worry about the shortening getting mixed up. It will melt a little bit and then when you do the next part, it will get mixed up with the ingredients.)
Let the mixture rest for a few minutes until the yeast starts to grow. (It will be bubbly. If it doesn’t get bubbly, then your yeast is either bad or you killed it with water that was too hot. Be patient and wait, though. It doesn’t immediately start to bubble. The yeast has to have time to start growing.)
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is over, stir the mixture down with the spoon. Do this 5 times in all. (Wait 10 minutes, then stir, etc.)
Divide the dough in half and let sit for ten minutes on the counter. (Lightly flour the counter, of course, so the dough won’t stick.)
Roll out and roll up like a jelly roll.
Put the loaves on a greased cookie sheet and score with a knife.
Let rise for 1 1/2 hours, covered. (These loaves rose a little bit too long. I had my office door closed and didn’t hear the timer go off. But the bread is wonderful, so no harm done.)
Bake at 350 degrees until light brown on the top and oh-so-yummy-looking. (It took me 20 minutes today.)
Thump it with your finger and if it sounds hollow, it is done. Brush the top with butter.