French bread is one of the most versatile things around. It's divine on it's own with just a bit of butter, served with a great cheese or dip, or as an essential component to one of our favorite meals, a good New Orleans po'boy. (Side note: I hate saying "po'boy." I feel like such a poser.)
This recipe is super easy and comes together pretty quickly (well, for bread). You most likely have everything you need at home, which is always a perk in my book. It has a nice and crispy crust, and the softest, fluffiest interior. (Another side note: Did you know there is a French word for the inside of the bread?! It's la mie, pronounced "mee." How great is that? Now we can all use it. And I think my new goal in life is to open a bakery called La Mie.)
OK, time to stop annoying you with side notes. Let's bake bread!
Easy French Bread
makes 1 loaf
1 cup water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard packet) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour (AP may be substituted, but use bread if you can)olive oil
Pour water into a large glass bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and sprinkle in yeast. Stir yeast and water with your fingers to combine them, then allow to sit for a few minutes until yeast is foamy (I waited about 5 minutes). Add salt and flour and stir with a big spoon until just combined. Use your hands to knead dough in the bowl until it's smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and pour in a bit of olive oil. Return dough to bowl and roll around until it's coated in olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour.
Once dough has risen (it should be about doubled in size), punch it down and roll it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Form dough into a long loaf. Place into an un-preheated oven. With the bread in there, preheat to 375 degrees F and set your timer for 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple minutes. Bread should be golden and have a crispy crust. Tear into that baby, and enjoy! Oh! And tomorrow, I'll show you how I really enjoyed mine...