I have been branching out more and more into the world of bread and making my own at home when I can. It just plain tastes better and works out to be a lot cheaper than what you pay for it in the stores. While I do try to keep things simple with what a make, I just recently tried a couple of recipes that are easy to do, with few ingredients, and will go well not just with your holiday meal plans but are great for any time. The first I tried is New Orleans French bread from Saveur magazine.
New Orleans French Bread
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the yeast and 2 cups of water heated to 115 degrees in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let the mixture sit until it is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and the shortening and then add the flour and salt. Mix on low-speed until the dough forms; increase the speed to medium-high and knead the dough until it is smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Uncover the dough and transfer it to a floured work surface. Knead the dough briefly to form a ball. Divide the dough into quarters and shape each quarter into a 16-inch long thick rope. Place two ropes each on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to sit until they have doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife or cutting blade, slash a long line down the center of each loaf. Bake the loaves until they are light brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of each loaf reads between 208 to 212 degrees, about 30 minutes. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Of course, we couldn’t resist and cut into one of the loaves right out of the oven and it was great. These French bread loaves are crunchy and delicious and perfect for many uses. Not only are they great to go with your entrée, but they would be great for appetizers like crostini, or just dipped in some olive oil. They are also ideal for sandwiches of all kinds. I’ll definitely make these again.
The other bread I tried this week is a simple recipe I came across for focaccia rolls. I wanted to make something that could be used for dinner rolls or also used for sandwiches and the like and this recipe was easy enough and seemed to fit my needs the best.
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
3 1/2 cups bread flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the warm water, honey and the yeast. Allow the mixture to proof until it id frothy, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the salt, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and mix together.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining olive oil and herbs and set aside.
Attach the dough hook to the mixer and add the flour to the mixture in the bowl. Knead the mixture on medium speed for 10 to 12 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and does not stick to your hands.
Oil a large bowl and add the dough. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place it in a draft-free area to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Once the dough is risen, punch it down and divide it into 12 equal size balls. Place the balls on a greased baking sheet, cover it with a damp towel and allow it to rise for 30 to 40 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Using the remaining olive oil and her mix, brush the top of each roll. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops of the rolls are golden brown and the rolls sound hollow.
I actually got more than 12 rolls out of this batch as I made some smaller and some larger so we could use some for dinner rolls and some for hamburgers. They have great flavor to them and I really liked them with the burgers. The small ones are perfect as dinner rolls for your holiday meals. I’ll be making these again as well.
That’s all I have for today. Check back again next time for more recipes. I still have a few Thanksgiving ideas if you are looking for something, so stayed tuned. Until next time, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!