Sunday, December 20, 2009
All of this bread was made from my regular batch of French bread dough, which includes:
3 cups warm water (bath temperature)
2 T. yeast
2 t. salt
7-8 cups of unbleached flour
I put all the ingredients in the Kitchen Aid bowl* with a dough hook, in the order listed. Start with only seven cups of flour, and if it's sticky, add more. It's always easy to add more flour, but if you've got a dough that's too dry, it's an icky nightmare to try adding more water. Once it's all mixed up, cover the bowl with waxed paper or a towel that was wet and wrung out. Let is rise until doubled in size, which could be 45 to 90 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Don't sweat it if you can't get back to it until it's more than double. If you're making regular loaves, this will make three, so cut into thirds and shape into a ball, a baguette, or skinny ropes to make braids, etc.
After braiding or putting into bread pans, bake at 400 degrees F for 20-35 minutes, depending upon how thick the bread is. The thicker it is, the longer it has to bake. The smallest loaves only took about 20-25 minutes. Onion loaves took 30. The braid took 35 minutes.
*Please note that I have the large Kitchen Aid (says "Professional" on the side). If you have a smaller mixer, you'll need to cut the recipe by roughly 2/3. (2 c. water, 1 1/2 T. yeast, 1 t. salt, 5-6 cups flour)
Edited at 9:40 a.m. Monday, thanks to readers' comments! Just holler if anything else is unclear.