May 27, 2012

Soft and Chewy French Bread with Garlic Spread

 I have just found the PERFECT french bread recipe?  It tastes just like, if not better, than my FAVORITE store-bought french bread - crust and all!

You know that hypnotizing smell when you walk into the grocery store and you smell FRESH french bread?  Oh my GOSH, it gets me every-single-time!  That is why they put a tray right by the front door and right by the cash register, because you can probably resist once, but twice - oh no!  Well, that is what my house smelled like, while I was baking this bread.

I usually make this recipe for fabulous french bread, because it is pretty easy and it tastes yummy, but I always thought the texture was slightly different than what I was used to with store-bought french bread.  This new version is EXACTLY what I have been looking for.  

This new recipe is just right.  The inside is so soft and has texture that french bread should have and it's not dry at all.  The crust has just the right amount of chewiness to it.  I made this bread, planning to eat it with some spaghetti and then I was going to use the leftovers for sandwiches later in the week, but we did not have any leftovers.  

It does take a little bit of time and since you can pick up a loaf of store-bought french bread for super cheap, you might think it wouldn't be worth the time and effort to make a homemade version, but my own personal opinion is HOMEMADE IS ALWAYS BETTER.  I will still be using store-bought when time is limited, but if it's a day where I have some extra time, I will, without a doubt, make this homemade recipe.  Oh and the garlic spread was yummy too, but I am content with just a little butter spray and salt and pepper.  Have you ever tried a slice of french bread with just butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper?  You should try it - it gives it just a little kick and it is so good.

Soft and Chewy French Bread 
1 1/2 Tbl. instant yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 1/2 Tbl. sugar
2 c. water
1 1/2 Tbl. oil
2 1/4 tsp. salt
6 c. all-purpose flour

Combine the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar; let it proof for ten minutes.  Then, add 2 cups water, oil, salt and 3 cups of flour.  Mix until flour is incorporated, then gradually add remaining 3 cups of flour.  Using the dough hook on a stand mixer, knead about five minutes, then turn out onto generously floured surface.  Every ten minutes, for the next hour, knead two or three times.  This is what gives the crust that french bread chewiness.  It is not crucial that kneading takes place at exact 10 minute intervals, just make sure to come back at least four times in the next hour to knead the dough a few times, then form back into a ball (keep dough covered with a piece of saran wrap between kneads, so it doesn't dry out)

Divide dough into 2 portions for regular-sized loaves or 4 portions for small loaves.  Spread each portion out into a rough rectangle and roll up, jelly-roll style.  Take the two ends of each loaf and tuck under slightly.  Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray and cut 3 diagonal lines into the tops of each loaf, about 1-inch deep.  Brush loaves with a beaten egg, making sure to get every single spot.  Whatever doesn't get covered with egg wash won't brown.  Raise until doubled or 30 minutes.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.         

*Some bread recipes tell you to keep adding flour until the sides of your bowl come clean - DON'T do that for this recipe.  This bread is incredibly tender, which means the dough is going to be softer and stickier.  Much of the dough will be hanging onto the dough hook and some will still be stuck to the bottom and sides of the bowl.  You can tell you've added enough flour and you've kneaded the dough long enough when you can pinch off a small bit and easily roll it into a little ball in the palm of your hand.  It will still be a little sticky to the touch, but not so sticky you can't roll it into a ball. 

Boursin Cheese Spread (aka Garlic Herb Spread)
1/2 c. butter, softened
8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/8 tsp. each dill, marjoram, thyme and pepper 
   OR 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

Stir all ingredients together to combine.  Serve on warm french bread.    

Jenn's Notes:  No notes today.  I just did what the recipe said and it turned out perfect.  The instructions might look long, but this bread is really easy and I think anyone could make it!

49 comments:

  1. The bread does indeed look perfect, and French bread and garlic spread are sooooooooo good together

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  2. Your bread looks so good!! I'm planning to make french bread tomorrow from a recipe I got at the cooking class I went to, hope it turns out as good as yours! I want to try that spread you made, it sounds wonderful!

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    1. I can't wait to see how it turns out! Does the recipe sound similar?

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  3. Your loaf looks incredible! I always say that homemade is best, too. Can't wait to try this recipe with the spread, too!

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  4. Yumm. I haven't eaten for a night...This reminds me to go make toast. Thanks for the recipe.

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  5. AH! I know exactly which grocery store bread you're talking about! Intoxicating! Looks fabulous!

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  6. homemade bread is my weakness

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  7. i want to try out every recipe on your blog!

    So glad I stopped by have been looking for a french bread recipe!

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    1. You should try out every recipe, but start with this bread first - it was amazing! - Jenn

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  8. That looks delicious! I'll be trying that soon.

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    1. Let me know what you think! - Jenn

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  9. This french bread looks so delicious!! We are so glad you joined our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday". We love to see all of the great recipes and ideas!! Thanks and we hope to see you again next week! -The Sisters

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  10. This looks heavenly! I like the spread recipe too - yum! Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!

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  11. This looks wonderfully yummy. I love baking, so I'll have to give this bread a try. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. Oh wow both the bread and the garlic spread sound DELICIOUS!!!!!!!

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  13. Thank you for sharing at Weekend Potluck! I chose it as one of my personal favorites from the Potluck last week. If you'd like, you can come on over and grab a "featured" button. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!
    http://www.thecountrycook.net/2012/06/weekend-potluck-21.html
    Brandie

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  14. This sounds amazing. French bread truly smells intoxicating.

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  15. looking forward to making this today!

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    1. Let me know how you like it! - Jenn

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  16. This recipe is AMAZING. Do you know if you can make the dough and then leave overnight?

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    1. I'm not sure it would work if you left the dough in the fridge overnight. Since it only takes an hour to make and you have to knead the dough every 10 minutes or so, it might not come out right if you leave it overnight. - Jenn

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  17. I have tried dozens of French bread recipes and this is hands down the best! I followed the recipe exactly to the letter......but instead of putting the dough in a pan......I halved the dough and put each half into a side of one of those rounded and preforated (sprayed with no stick spray and sprinkled with corn meal) baking pans. Terrific! Next time - I am going to experiment and see if I might substitute some whole grain flour into the recipe.

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    1. Oh, that is so good to know. This is only the 2nd french bread recipe I have tried, but ever since I tried this one I haven't wanted to try any more. Let me know how the whole grain flour works! - Jenn

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  18. I made this bread today and it was soooo AMAZING! This was my first time ever attempting bread making! After one taste I was very surprised that I had made that all by myself! Thank you so much for sharing, I want to try so many more of your recipes!

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    1. Your first bread ever? I am so impressed - nice job! I am so glad that you liked it. I just made it again the other day too and I can't get enough! - Jenn

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  19. i made this bread last night**WOW** it is fantastic!!!!! the best bread recipe i have ever made! thank you!!!!

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    1. I am so glad you liked it! Thanks for letting me know - Jenn

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  20. I have made french bread using your recipe at least 4 times in the past 2 weeks! I love it! I have some rising right now! I attempted using half whole wheat flour last time and it still came out soft and chewy! Thanks!

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    1. That is awesome. I can't wait to try it with some wheat flour. Thanks for letting me know.

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  21. I can honestly say without a doubt that I have been searching for the best French bread recipe for years, and without fail and many,many tries, they have all turned out to be a major disappointment. That's was until today.
    I followed this recipe to the "T"!! Hoping for success, I was absolutely tickled pink and was short of doing cartwheels in my test kitchen, yureeka

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    1. Yay! I'll do cartwheels with you. I am so glad you like it as much as I do.

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  22. I am in love with this recipe, i have been looking for a year or so for a solid french bread recipe that doesnt come out to dense, this is PERFECT better than store bought french bread for sure thank you so much!!!

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    1. I am so glad you like it! I totally agree and I am in love with it too :) - Jenn

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  23. OMG! This bread is wonderful. I bake bread almost every week, and decided to try this one. Thanks for sharing. Starting to learn french cooking.

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    1. I'm so glad you like it as much as I do!

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  24. Well...Next time I will remember to split this into four loaves! I don't know what I did, but my loaves are huge! Like, spilling over the sides of the pan after the 30 min rise. They're baking in the oven right now and I'm crossing my fingers they still come out alright. So I'll probably give this another try and see if I can get the sizing of the loaf right for me. :)

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  25. We have made this twice so far. I am a long time bread/roll maker, this recipe by far delivers lovely loaves of french bread.....best ever!!! Will try it with 2 c. whole wheat flour next time. Thank you for sharing!

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  26. I have just finished making this recipe as per your instructions. I feel compelled to write you and tell you what a remarkably wonderful recipe this is!! It is SO delicious, light, and chewy. This is by far the best French bread recipe I have ever made, (and there have been a few over the years with not so great end results). The only addition I made to it was to add toasted sesame seeds to the top after putting on the egg wash. They are a subtle and very yummy flavor boost. I am very happy I did that. As soon as I bit into the first piece I headed for the refrigerator to grab the cream cheese, butter, then to get the other ingredients rounded up to make the garlic spread you had also published. Amazing recipes. Thank you so much for FINALLY resolving my hunt for the perfect French bread recipe. I just cannot rave enough about this!

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    1. That is SO good to hear. I am so glad you enjoy the bread as much as I do. Great idea with the toasted sesame seeds. Thanks!

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  27. Excited to try this recipe. It would have gone perfectly with the Ratatouille I had yesterday.

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  28. This is my "go to" French bread recipe. The first time I saw it, I saved it. After I made it the first time, it's been THE French bread recipe. I haven't even tried another because this one is so perfect.

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    1. That is so good to hear!!! It's always good to know someone else loves a recipe as much as I do. Thanks for letting me know.

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  29. Yummy! I made this bread the other day and LOVED it! I mentioned it on my blog too! Check it out!
    http://www.partiallypaisley.com/search/label/food
    Only mine didn't turn out as pretty as yours! It was still delicious! Going to make more tonight!

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you liked it. The more you make it, the easier it will be to shape it. Thanks :)

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  30. Do you have to use a dough hook? What if you don't have one??

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