Whether you’ve made lots of bread in the past or are completely new, you can create some lovely loaves this holiday season. Don’t be shy about doing something creative. You can make a braided loaf of bread by rolling out three long skinny ropes and then laying on the counter and braiding just as you would braid a person’s hair. The braid in the picture below was actually my very first attempt several years ago. Of course, I noticed the fact that one end was bigger than the other, but our dinner guests simply raved about how pretty it was.
Here is a simple French bread recipe that you can use to make baguettes, rolls, or a braid like the one in the picture.
3 cups warm water (bath temperature)
2 tablespoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
6-7 cups of unbleached flour
Mix all the above ingredients together. (If using a mixer, be sure to use your dough hook).
Start with just 6 cups of flour and add additional flour a 1/4 cup at a time, if the dough is still sticky.
Cover your bowl with waxed paper or a damp towel and let the dough rise for between 45 and 90 minutes until it has doubled in size.
Separate your dough. If you’re making regular loaves, this will make two or three, so cut into
thirds and shape into a ball, a baguette, or skinny ropes to make
After braiding or placing on a baking stone or pan, bake at 400 degrees F for
20-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the loaves. A skinny little baguette will only take 15 minutes, whereas a larger ball will take 35 minutes. Keep an eye on the how brown the bread is and check for doneness when it looks nicely browned. You can tap the bottom of the bread to see if it sounds “hollow,” or you can stick a thermometer in the loaf, and if it reads 200 or more, it’s done!
* This recipe makes three standard sized loaves of 16 slices each. 1 serving here equals one slice of bread.