Friday, February 27, 2009
Grandma's French Bread
2 T. yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. very hot water
1 T. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. shortening
6 c. flour
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. warm water.
In a large bowl, combine hot water, salt, sugar, and shortening and stir. Add 2 c. flour and stir well. Add proofed yeast and stir. Add 4 c. flour and stir well. It should form sort of a "shaggy" dough:
Set the timer for 10 minutes and then stir down the dough. (I took this to mean sort of punching down the dough with your spoon.) Repeat 4 more times (5 times total).
Grandma recommends putting out 5 objects and taking one away after each stir-down, so you don't forget how many times you've done it. I used magnets. Of course, you have to take one away each time or this strategy is useless!
After the 5th time, turn the dough out on a well-floured board and cut in 2 equal portions.
Roll each half into an elongated rectangle. Place both halves, side by side, on a large cookie sheet covered in cornmeal. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slash each loaf 3 times with a sharp knife and brush on an egg/water glaze, if desired. (You may also sprinkle sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or salt crystals on top of loaves at this point.)
Bake 30-35 minutes and cool on a wire rack.