Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hot Roll Fail

When I was growing up, any meal that had a hot roll involved was the best meal of the week. Sometimes we would just have hot rolls out of the oven for dinner. Oh it was a glorious thing. Golden brown on the outside, fluffy on the inside, tied in perfect knots; my mom's signature. I never really made hot rolls on my own on a consistent basis. Maybe here or there, I was more of a loaves of bread kind of girl. Mostly because my mom made such amazing hot rolls. Well the last few months, I've been in charge of hot rolls for Sunday dinner. I think our church schedule makes it easier for me to bring the rolls. Except you guys. I suck at them now. Like really. They don't turn out. At all. The first time, I killed the yeast. No rising at all. So much so that I hurried and made a batch of muffins instead. The second time I kinda killed it, and they were, eh. To say the least. Oh but this last time, I thought I had it, I knew I didn't kill the yeast, if anything I didn't get things warm enough. Well whatever. 5 hours later they barely rose. Barely. Hunter informed me that Micall can make hot rolls which means basically I'm an idiot.
So instead of spending my time trying to figure out why in the world I can't get a batch of rolls to rise but I can make croissants galore, I started on a new venture.
French Bread.
The crusty bread is great right? It's really good, and so easy. But does anyone tire from having a bowl of fermenting yeast on the counter? Or aren't that on top of things, so thinking about dinner 8 hours in advance isn't your thing? Ah, well let me introduce you to this fantastic recipe. My new favorite!
French Bread:
It's all perfect, golden and crusty! Takes about an hour total, but that is with it rising twice. Only a few ingredients to mix it together and I let my mixer knead it! The perfect bread for a week night dinner.

First you want to start with your yeast. Proof it. In a small bowl or your handy 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup add 1/4 C  warm water, a teaspoon of sugar and your yeast. You want to make sure your water is warm, not cold or hot. Mix it all together with a fork. Then wait. It will get all gross and spongy! I let it sit until the sponge is at the 1 Cup mark, or about 5 minutes.

In your mixing bowl add your dry ingredients: Flour, Sugar, and Salt.
Add the proofed yeast, oil, and water to your flour mixture.

Mix until the dough comes together. Sometimes I switch to my dough hook or not, but I let the mixer knead it for 5 minutes,

Until it looks all smooth. Once my grandma told me that you knead bread until its as smooth as a baby's bum. Somehow I always knew what that meant. Weird? Maybe.
 Cover the bread in the mixing bowl in a warm spot for about 20 minutes. Until it rises about double and looks like this.
Plop it out on the a slightly floured surface and cut it into loaves.  The dough has a great consistency, its very elastic and springy. Not like any hot rolls I've ever made. 

I've made it as one loaf, 2 or 4. Somehow the 4 smaller loaves look prettier. They hold their shape much better. 

 Roll the loaves out to about a half inch thick square. (No exact measurements are required.) Then roll them up like a jelly roll. Making sure your seam is tightly closed and your edges are wrapped under. This helps keep its shape. I would have photographed this part but I was paying attention to this kid who was sitting on the counter demanding my attention. Rude right?
Your loaves will look like this!
 Now preheat your oven to 300 degrees and put a pot of water on to boil. 
Once your water is boiling, your oven is heated. Take an egg and a splash of water and make a wash. Make 3 slits in each of your loaves and brush them with the egg wash. This makes them extra golden and crispy on the outside. Kevin prefers a little salt sprinkled on top, so I make him a loaf. I'm a giver. 
Now add your boiling water to the lowest rack and the bread on top of it. Turn OFF your oven and let them rise in there. 
twenty minutes later they will look like this...
Turn your oven back on to 425 and bake them for 15 Minutes... They are getting there! 
Turn your oven down to 375 and bake for about 8 minutes more, until they are nice and golden all around. 
And just like that you have 4 perfect loaves of French Bread. Pretty easy, and they taste amazing! I used these for sloppy joes, and well it didn't feel like we were eating sloppy joes. Fresh, homemade bread makes everything better!

French Bread

-1/4 C Warm Water
-2 TB dry active yeast
-1tsp Sugar
-3 1/2 -4 C flour
-1 TB Sugar
-1 tsp Salt
-2 TB Olive Oil
-1 C warm water
-1 egg and 1tsp Water

Combine the first three ingredients in a small bowl and allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast is all nice and bubbly.
In your mixer add the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together until combined.
Add your yeast mixture, olive oil, and water until combined.
Knead the dough in your mixture until the dough is pulled together and smooth, about 5 minutes .
Let the dough rise for a bout 20 minutes, or until double in size.
Separate the dough into 4 parts. (I've done it making 2 larger loaves or even just 1, but the loaves look prettier if you make 4 smaller ones, I don't know why. They hold their shape better)
On a slightly floured surface roll the dough out into a flat sheet, then roll it up like you would a jelly roll. Tucking the ends under. Then cut 3 slits about 1/4" deep into the loaf.
Mix your egg and water together and brush it over the prepared loaves.
Preheat your oven to 300 Degrees
Bring a sauce pan full of water to a boil. And then place it on the bottom shelf of your oven, with your bread above it. Turn off the oven.
Allow to rise again until double, about 20 Minutes.
Turn oven back on to 425, bake for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 375 for 8 minutes or until the bread is nice at golden.

recipe adapted from

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  1. Oh! This looks so easy, I really want to try it, but I don't have a mixer. I wonder how it would turn out if I did it by hand.

    1. I'm sure it would work! It would just take a few extra minutes to knead it together by hand. I love kneading bread...

  2. I love making bread! Do you remove the loaves while the oven heats up to 425? Or just leave them in there while it heats?

    1. I leave them in there while the oven preheats. The original recipe said to take the pot of water out, but the loaves keep their shape a lot better with the water in there the entire time. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. This bread looks wonderful! I am trying these tonight. I am sure Shea will let you know if I failed.