It was late in the day, Mom had made an Irish Stew the day before so we were all set for dinner, we were just waiting on Dad to arrive back after visiting Grandad.
The weather has started to finally brighten up (thank goodness – although it won’t last for long no doubt) sooooo on a sunny evening, what other thought might cross one’s mind, other than to go bake some bread to dip in the brewing stew?!
I decided on a French Stick today (i.e. classic French bread)…. I don’t know whether everyone calls this type of loaf a French Stick, or if it’s just me?!
It’s crusty exterior and fluffy interior creates a magnificent bread and it’s one of my favourites, however it was actually my first time in making such a loaf. I thought it would be difficult, but it couldn’t have been easier.
It took me about 15 minutes to throw all the ingredients together and knead, 1 hour to prove, 5 minutes to shape, 40 minutes to prove again, and after around 20 minutes in the oven, you are left with a perfect loaf to dip in your stew.
The combination of plain flour and strong bread flour creates a texture more reminiscent of true french bread, and the steam created in the oven from the water you place on the bottom, gives the bread it’s perfect crisp crust.
Ideally it should be eaten on the same day, but if you can’t manage this, just pop it in the oven to warm up a little (it will only really last for around 2 days after baking)
French Bread (makes two large loaves)
350g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
115g plain flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fast action dried yeast
300ml hand-hot water
- Combine the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add the water and mix to a soft dough
- Turn out on to an unfloured surface and knead for around 10 minutes, until smooth
- Cover and prove in a greased bowl until doubled in size (this took around 1 hour, in a warm place)
- Grease and flour two baking trays
- Divide the dough into two. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangular shape. Roll up tightly from the long edge, pinching the seams together. Place diagonally on your baking tray (seam side down) and make deep diagonal cuts along the dough.
- Prove until doubled in size again (this took around 40 minutes)
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees and place a large shallow dish on the bottom of the oven and fill this with boiling water (be very careful when doing this!)
- Dust the tops of the dough with a little flour and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes (when you tap the bottom of the bread it should sound hollow)