Thursday, March 10, 2011

Easy French Bread and a Momma's small breakdown.

Y'all, I signed my baby up for kindergarten yesterday. *Sniffles* 
I know it happens and I know he has to grow up but some things are just hard on a Momma.
 He's my baby
I know you parents know what I'm talking about. You love watching your kids blossom into the people they are supposed to 
be while inside a piece of you just cries out to keep them little forever.

And of course, I came home and started flipping through old pictures and I came across this one (at the top left). Do y'all remember me telling you about Alex's first table food being cheesecake? Well, here's the proof. I had forgotten that we had taken a picture of it!
Alex is so excited. He's been in preschool for a couple of years now and he is somewhat of a social butterfly. 
He loves people and he loves to talk ( I have no idea where he gets that from). 
I'm pretty sure he thinks Kindergarten is just a place that will give him a bigger audience of listeners. 
And here's my little builder now at 5 yrs old.
What does this have to do with my next post? Absolutely nothing but I felt a need to share and because I drove away from the school yesterday with a huge lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes. It was a mother's moment.

Shew! Now that I got that off of my chest I can finally talk about bread!

On my continuing quest to make bread, I ventured into the world of french bread a while back. I'm not sure how many of you own a bread machine but I purchased mine a couple of years ago at Wal-mart. I think it cost about 50 bucks and it has been one of my best kitchen helpers (next to Alex, who doesn't so much help but prefers to make a mess, but it's all good, they're only little once, right?).

Now the funny part - I never actually make bread IN the machine. I let the bread machine mix the ingredients, knead the dough, and give the dough the first rising. But I've never actually made a loaf in there. I take the dough out after the first rising, shape it into what I need and then do the second rising in a slightly warmed oven.
I just like the bread machine so much because it does most of the hard stuff and it takes a lot of the guess work out for me.
I use it for so many things - from breads to cinnamon roll dough.

Now if you don't have a bread machine, don't worry.
I'm not expecting you to go out and buy a kitchen gadget just to make good bread.
You can do this by hand too.
And don't let the simple ingredients fool you.
I am a believer that sometimes the most simple and rustic of ingredients almost always produce a better food.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups very warm water
3 ½ cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 package of active dry yeast
Directions:
Place above ingredients in your bread machine according to manufacturer’s directions 
(mine requires that I put wet ingredients in first - then dry). 
Start machine on dough setting.  Quick tip: I usually take a peak at my dough in the first 10 minutes or so to make sure all the flour is getting incorporated into the dough. Sometimes I just need to scrape down the sides a bit. After that, I leave it alone. 
When dough cycle is complete (usually about an hour to an hour and a half), remove dough and place on floured surface.

Preheat oven to 200F degrees (you’re going to put your loaves in the preheated oven to rise). Once oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Cut dough ball in half and roll each loaf out (or save one dough ball for later use and put in freezer) to about 12 inches long in the shape of french bread.

Cut three small slices on top of bread and place loaves on a greased baking sheet (just spray evenly with Pam). Cover with a clean dish towel and place into warmed oven. Allow the loaves rise until doubled, about an hour.

Take loaves out and preheat oven to 450F degrees.  
Bake loaves for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, turning the pan around once halfway during baking.
Remove loaves when finished baking and allow to cool on wire racks.

* If you are doing this by hand, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until combined. Take dough out and place on floured surface and knead dough for about 8-10 minutes (until dough is smooth and elastic). Put dough into lightly greased oven proof bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Preheat oven to 200F degrees and then turn off. Allow dough to rise in the warmed oven until doubled in size (about 45 min. to an hour). Then continue with above directions to finish making the bread.

Cook’s Note: I usually get the jar of Fleischmann’s Yeast for the Bread Machine and keep it stored in the fridge.  If you are using yeast from a jar, give your jar a good shake and then measure out 2 ¼ teaspoons of yeast for this recipe.  Also, you just need to use table salt for this recipe.  Kosher salt granules will be a little too large to use here.


Enjoy!





39 comments :

  1. Great job! Looks really, really yummy...and carb-y...I want, I want!

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  2. looks good! it is so sad when they grow up...when my sister took my nephew to enroll in kindergarten last Fall, i almost cried. When he goes for his first day this September, i know i will. My little man is growing up! I keep telling my sister to tell him to stop, but he keeps growing!

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  3. He is soo adorable!!! I know what you mean, my baby is just now 2 and I am just i awe of how the time has flown by...They are such blessings!!! Now the bread looks like something I will be making very soon!! Thanks I love bread or baking recipes that are for people like me...easy!

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  4. What a cutie pie!!! I'm so glad you posted this...I can't seem to find my bread machine booklet and have been wanting to try my own :)

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  5. Awww!! Bran, I totally understand what you mean about enjoying watching them grow and change, but it is hard to accept sometimes too! We're starting to think about preschool for my little one, and I'm not ready yet!!! lol! This is the same french bread recipe I use. How funny is that? Sometimes if I'm really lazy I will let it cook in the bread machine though. haha!

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  6. I love how you take the bread out of the breadmaker and still do the exciting jobs. Your bread may be simple but it looks perfect and delicious.
    Good luck to Alex for school. (good luck to mummy, too ;-) Love your comment about him getting excited about having more listeners!!

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  7. This looks gorgeous. I am so jealous of you right now - my bread tastes good but never looks as good as this. Maybe it's because I'm not using bread flour? Although the recipes I use don't call for it. It always seems to flatten out on me. Hmmm...what do you think?

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  8. I understand the tears when registering for kindergarten. I've been through that numerous times...and it doesn't get any easier. I cried on my grandchildren's first day of school too!
    I'm going to try this recipe tonight. I use my bread machine all the time..mostly for making dough.
    Thank you for sharing!

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  9. Ok so I think I am just going to scrap my recipe and use yours. You recipes are the best and so much easier!

    I know what you mean about the kids growing up. My son is 13! I really don't know where the time has gone. What's really cool though is that we can (sometimes) have pretty grown up and sophisticated conversations on social issues and the world in general.

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  10. Boy oh boy do I know exactly how you feel! Cept my baby is all grown up and boy am I meloncholy! I just posted something similar just yesterday!! From one mom to another, I feel for ya sweets!

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  11. So easy! I'll have to try it out. Great job.

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  12. he is sooo cute! and I love the bread recipe! gloria


    I undesrtand you: My twins have 16!!! and always missed when they were babies!! buaah!!

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  13. Oh dear...I remember those days, and have to live it one more time with my youngest one:(
    Hang in there..and he is so handsome!

    Bread is stunning..you know I love bread, so this is big chocolate cake for me heheehe

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  14. I love French bread! Thanks for sharing this!

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  15. I can smell it now. Yum. I guess between you and I and our blog posts today- we both have bread on the brain. :)

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  16. ::sigh:: I remember that step to Kindergarten for all my children so well, along with crying my eyes out at preschool graduations - and now I'll be attending one college graduation next year, one high school graduation and my baby will be entering high school. I just can't believe how fast the years have flown by!

    On to the bread - looks delicious! I often do the same thing you do with letting the bread machine do the work. It just never seems to come out that great when I try actually baking it in the bread machine.

    Thanks for stopping in to join in for the giveaway - good luck! :-)

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  17. I remember when I dropped my baby off and kinder and started to cry, hopefully it won't be that traumatic for you. Nice looking french bread.
    -Gina-

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  18. My granddaughter is a Senior in high school, so talk about time flying. It seems like she just went to Kindergarten. Your little guy is so cute! Enjoy every moment with him that you can. Your bread looks very good, and I don't have a bread machine, but I did make a King Cake:)

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  19. Aw, Alex is SO cute!! My breakdown will be next year when my baby starts his senior year of high school! Brace yourself for that post!!! Your bread looks wonderful! Nothing smells better in the oven :)

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  20. A great post, and your bagette looks fantastic! I'm not a bread baker but so many of my friends are! Guess it's my next bakers challenge!
    You'll treasure this weeks 'mummy' moment! x

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  21. We're a household of carbaholics, so you know I think this looks delicious. ;) We don't have a bread machine. (How did we just get married and not receive a bread machine? Doesn't everyone?)

    p.s. Your baby is adorable. I don't care if he's old enough to go to school - he's still your baby. Don't you know the book "Love You Forever"? ;)

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  22. My boys were lucky enough to have the same Kindergarten teacher at the beginning of the school year (since T's now on his 2nd Kindergarten teacher in Florida), and she read "The Kissing Hand" to the class while the parents were still there. Then she has the kids come give our hands kisses and then we're sent out the door...all bawling our eyes out!

    You think signing up is tough? Wait till that first day -- I'm usually not all that mushy, but that was crazy!!!!

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  23. I have been trying to get on your site all week! I do not know what my computers problem is!!! I love me some French bread and your lil guy is too cute Bean! Its difficult when they grow up : (

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  24. Meant to say Bran ... not Bean!! Haha See I told you my computers having issues! lol

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  25. Awww... your little one is just precious!

    I have to give french bread another try because i tried some betty crocker recipe and it gave me horrible results. yours looks soft and easy to slice.

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  26. Oh I'm so excited to try this! Thanks for letting me know about this post! I'm dying to practice my new found bread making skills. :)

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  27. Aww your son is so cute, all ready for school! :)
    Your french bread looks so fluffy and soooo good. I wish I had a slice of it right now.

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  28. I have those mother's moments all the time. Alex isn't even my baby and hearing you talk about it made my eyes well up. I can put myself in your shoes. My itty bitty is going to be 3 in a couple of months and I don't even know where the time went. It's bittersweet. Onto the bread... looks so delicious! Yummy!

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  29. We're sorry for your sniffles, but glad for Alex's opportunity to find a new audience! Seems like you made a good choice, though, it's hard to imagine anything more comforting than freshly baked bread. We use the bread machine in the same manner by the way, you are not alone!

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  30. It has been an emotional few days - that's for sure. Who knew it would be so hard. I find myself just sitting there staring at him - hard! As if by willpower alone I can keep him little. Oh how I love this child!
    It must happen though - we all grow up. Thanks for all the support. What would I do without you all!

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  31. I cannot blame you, he is so handsome :) As for the bread, wow looks so puffy and light. I would love some with butter, YUM!!! Thank you for sharing and have a great Sunday!

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  32. I love the simplicity of this bread -- and french bread is a favorite at our house. Thanks!

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  33. I can commiserate with you on the kindergarten sign up! My little guy started this past fall. That first day I definitely shed some bittersweet tears. Now he is getting his first loose tooth. A year just goes by in the blink of an eye! I just realized the other day that he is turning 6 and if he moves out at 18 we are 1/3 of the way done having him at home with us... Just try to appreciate every day and enjoy this time where mommy is still cool :)
    PS- Your bread looks great too!

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  34. I too just signed my youngest up for kindergarten :( I was also crying! This is my last of four and I can't believe I'll soon have no little ones at home.

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  35. Just browsing thru your sidebar photos makes my mouth water. Lots of goodies here!! I invite you to link up any & all of your delightful creations to The Homespun Bake Shop @ The Tattered Tag. It's a great new place for delicious inspiration. Happy to be a new follower too. :)

    Drop by The Tattered Tag

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  36. Hi, following you from Made by you Monday.. I am Marelie from www.cookiedropletsetcbymarelie.com I love to make my own bread. thanks

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  37. I finally made this bread today. I am pleased to say that it was perfect! My french bread quest is finally over. Many many thank yous for posting this wonderful recipe!

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  38. Another fabulous recipe, Brandie. Gosh, your "wee one" at 5 looks so grown up! Must be the good start with the cheesecake (dig the toes!)

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  39. Well, I'm a couple years late at finding your blog (LOL). How is your "little man" doing in school now? My baby is 18 and in college. I cried when he went to pre-school, I cried at kindergarten, I cried at grade school graduation, oh boy did I cry at high school graduation (he didn't tell us he was graduating Cum Laude - that was a surprise), and I suppose I'll cry at college graduation. He takes it in stride - just hugs me and smiles. Anyway, I'm lovin your blog - your recipes sound so scrumptious and e-a-s-y (my fav 4 letter word), I can't wait to start trying them out.

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