Easy French Bread Recipe

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Today I made an easy French bread recipe for Lughnasadh. Dee had a ritual with a potluck. Lughnasadh is a festival marking the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Originally it was held on the first of August, or about halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. However, over time the celebrations shifted to the Sundays nearest this date. Lughnasadh is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals; along with Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane. It corresponds to other European harvest festivals such as the Welsh Calan Awst and the English Lammas.

Mmmmmm.. what’s that smell? Could this glorious smell really be coming from my kitchen? There is nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked bread. We gravitate towards it when we pass a bakery or feel the fresh warm bread just out of the oven at the grocery store. “But, Malice…” you say, “I can’t make bread!” Sure you can! Not only is it better tasting, it is better for you.

When you make food for yourself or your family, you know what goes into it and what you are eating. Baking your own bread is something you can do, it is not that difficult and you will never go back to store bought bread again.

 

Let’s get started!

what yo will need

This makes 4 loaves of bread:

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4 cups water – lukewarm
½ cup sugar
4 T dry yeast
4 T oil
1 T salt
Lots of flour – I used around 8 cups for these loaves
(T = tablespoon)

 

SAM_5533First step – put the water in a bowl along with the sugar and yeast – this helps the yeast to activate. Let this sit for like 10 mins or so until it looks like this:

 

 

SAM_5541Now you can start adding the flour, a little bit at a time, until it looks a little bit like pancake batter

 

 

 

SAM_5545Try not to make a mess, like me! :)

 

 

 

At this point, add the salt and the oil

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SAM_5547Keep mixing and adding flour until it starts to form a ball and pulls away from the wall of the bowl

 

 

 

Flour your board, or counter or whatever you are going to use to knead the dough. This dough doesn’t need a lot of kneading, just a minute or so until it is smooth and not sticky

 


Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it over a few times to coat the dough with oil

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Make sure the bowl is big enough, you want the dough to double in size. This bowl is not big enough and the dough will spill out of the bowl!

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This is more like it!

 

Here is a tip to create your own “proofing oven” using your regular oven. Turn the oven on and start a timer for 60 seconds. When the timer goes off, turn off your oven. This warms up the air inside the oven and creates a warm space to rise you dough. Please remember to turn off your oven! Some people like to put the bowl in the oven with just the light on. Either way, you want a draft free warm place to rise the dough.

 

SAM_5561SAM_5564Put some plastic wrap over your bowl and cover with a towel. Place the bowl wherever you have decided to let it rise.

Let it double in size. This takes about an hour or so.

 

Deflate the dough by pushing on the dough.

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SAM_5567Divide the dough into 4 parts. (I decided to make a bigger loaf out of half and divided the other half into two loaves) I made a braid loaf – divide into 3 sections and take the one on the left, place it over the center and then the right side over the new center. SAM_5569

 

until it looks like this

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After forming your loaves, get an egg and whip it – brush the egg all over your loaves. This will help make a nice tasty crust.SAM_5577

 

 

 

Starting with a cold oven, place the loaves in the oven. DO NOT PREHEAT YOUR OVEN. Place the loaves in the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

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Loaves are done when they sound hollow when you thump them with your thumb.

Serve with butter and homemade jam!

 

Enjoy!!

 

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