While not nearly as hard to come by in Cincinnati as muffuletta bread, what is available locally pales in comparison to what can be had at a Louisiana grocery store (such as Albertson’s). Once again, I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Straight out of the oven, it produces a wonderful, crispy crust. It is still good after it softens, but not to the same level that has my daughter and I eating half the loaf (or forgetting to take a picture first.
The big downside is that I don’t perceive it to be terribly flexible. French bread is less-than ideal for peanut butter and grilled cheese sandwiches. On top of French onion soup or on the side of gumbo is where it really shines. The recipe, as stated, takes about five hours start to finish. However, as with any bread, rise time is “until double in bulk.” That may shave some time for you.
This recipe makes two loaves, but can be readily halved. Also, while the recipe calls for it to be rolled out flat, then curled into a loaf, you can also just free-form the loaf (the latter is just how I was shown).
- 4½ teaspoons dry yeast
- 2½ cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- Place water in bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble.
- Stir in 2 cups flour and the salt and let rise for a half-hour.
- Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
- Put dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let ride for two-and-a-half hours
- Punch down dough, divide in two.
- Using a rolling pin, roll into a 12×6” rectangle roll the long side up. Seal seams and edges by pinching. Repeat for both sections.
- Place on greased (or Silpatted) cookie sheet. Let rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray loaves with a bit of water, then, with a blade, make a few slashes across the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- Try not to eat both loaves before your meal.