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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Honest-to-God-Minimal-Fuss Crusty French Bread..and I'm NOT a Baker!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Honest-to-God-Minimal-Fuss Crusty French Bread..and I'm NOT a Baker!

I used to love baking things in my breadmachine, and the kids love eating homemade bread, especially when I get up the gumption to make French Toast, but alas...I am not a REAL baker and only a neophyte who cheats with a breadmachine. You know the kind of real baker I mean. The one who can take some flour, water, yeast and maybe a pinch of salt, no recipe and make a nice crusty loaf of French bread that can be slathered with a good helping of butter and devoured almost whole in one sitting. That just tastes divine.

Believe it or not, we don't have a bakery directly close by. I had visions of walking to the local German bakery every morning. It ain't happenin' here...too far of a walk. Breakfast would be long over by the time I got back. So, I racked my brain thinking of what else I could do. Our commissary has a poor selection of breads. You'd be lucky to get an old bag of Wonder white bread over here...plus, all the loaves are half the size they are in the States. I haven't quite figured out why that is they way it is.

Here we were in our new apartment, with only our ACS loaner kitchen stuff and not much else. The oven did come with these wonderfully large cookie sheets. Why I can't find cookie sheets like this in the States? I don't know, but here they are. Perfect...let's make some French bread. So I trolled around online, looking for a good French bread from scratch recipe and found one here.

Here it is again...

Crusty French Bread

2 loaves (change servings and units)

Ingredients

Directions


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) and sugar in large bowl; allow yeast to proof or foam (about 10 minutes).

  2. Add salt, oil, and 3 cups flour; beat for 2 minutes.

  3. Stir in 2 cups flour to make a stiff dough.

  4. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

  5. Place in oiled bowl, turn dough to coat all sides, cover and let rise until doubled.

  6. Punch down and divide in half.

  7. Shape dough into two long slender loaves.

  8. Grease and sprinkle with cornmeal either a french bread pan or large cookie sheet.

  9. Place loaves in pan and cut diagonal gashes on top of each loaf (I use scissors).

  10. Cover and let rise until doubled.

  11. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.

  12. Note: You can sprinkle or spray water on the loaves during baking if you want a really crunchy crust.
My only change to this recipe, getting an extra helping of flour on the work surface as I formed each loaf. You want to have some visible flour on the outside of the loaf. It just makes it look more artisan.

Hmmm...it looked easy enough. I understood every step, and I didn't need a lot of implements or ingredients. I also had a friend....a long time ago, who was a baker, who would never show me anything much to my dismay...I wanted to learn so badly, but we just never got around to it...but I DID remember something I saw her do once. After you heat up the oven and put the risen loaves in there, splash a quarter cup of water into the bottom of the oven and quickly close the door. Now, I've only tried this with an electric stove, but it creates a nice steam effect which is essential for crisp, crusty and chewy French bread. Then, halfway through baking time, do it again. I ended up with two honest-to-God French bread loaves...and the kicker, is that I've been able to repeat it again and again! We had wonderful submarine sandwiches five days in a row the first week we were in the apartment. My kids were so happy.

So the point of this story...even if you've failed trying something before, just try it again. You might surprise yourself. Also, use what you have and again surprise yourself, that yummy things can be made with minimal ingredients and fuss.

Do you have any similar stories to share?

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3 Comments:

Blogger Linda said...

mmmm....might just have to try this recipe. I'm a latecomer to the breadmaker (having secured mine thru freecycle, lol) and I don't use it often, because there's a perpetual diet going on in this house (and not just me!)

But I may just try this.

September 5, 2008 at 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Angela said...

I had to post right away! I have NEVER baked any kind of bread. not in a bread machine or by myself. I followed your directions and the bread came out great! It disappeared with last night's spaghetti and the best part is I only had to buy one ingredient some yeast in a jar.

September 8, 2008 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Sheri said...

Great recipe. I tried it today and the entire family loved it. Thanks for sharing.

October 13, 2008 at 2:19 AM  

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