Classic, crusty french bread, so easy, so quick, so good. Makes perfect authentic Old World-style crusty french bread loaves plus. You can also use this dough for dinner rolls, pizza crusts, dipping bread, or Italian bread (with added oil). If you have company, double or triple the recipe or it will disappear before you can get it to the table!
How to make Hot, Crusty French Bread:
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
salt to taste (I used 3/4 teaspoon)
approximately 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine water with yeast and salt. Let sit for five minutes. Stir in flour until the dough is stiff enough to knead. (Add flour a little at a time.) Knead dough until smooth and elastic–a few minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl; cover. Let rise until doubled. Form dough into a French-style loaf and place on greased baking sheet. (Dust baking sheet with cornmeal first if desired.) Place immediately in oven (unpreheated!)–bread will rise as oven heats up. Set oven at 375-degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
Makes one loaf. Recipe can be doubled, tripled, and so on.
For dinner rolls: After first rise, divide dough into balls. Dust greased baking sheet with cornmeal if desired. Let rolls rise till doubled. Bake in 375-degree oven about 15 minutes. Makes one dozen rolls.
Pizza crust: Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the water, yeast, salt mixture before adding flour then continue with the basic directions. After first rise, roll dough out on a greased pizza baking pan. Place immediately in oven. Bake at 400-degrees for about 8 minutes. Take out pizza crust. Add sauce and toppings as desired. Put completed pizza back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Makes one large pizza crust.
French bread pizza: Bake french bread loaf as directed above. Let cool. Slice loaf in half horizontally. Add sauce and toppings as desired. Put completed french bread pizzas back in 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes. See Shrimp French Bread Pizza.
Dipping bread: After first rise, roll dough flat in a square or rectangular pizza pan (or cookie sheet). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle garlic, salt, or other herbs as desired. Bake in 375-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cut into thin rectangular pieces. Dip in prepared spaghetti sauce, Ranch dressing, olive oil with garlic and balsamic vineger, etc.
Soft, chewy Italian loaves and rolls: Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the recipe above (add to water, yeast, salt mixture before adding flour) to turn classic, crusty French bread loaves into soft, chewy Italian loaves or rolls. Follow recipe otherwise. Bake at 375-degrees for 30-40 minutes for loaves, 15 minutes for rolls.
See the Hot, Crusty French Bread recipe at Farm Bell Recipes and save it to your recipe box.