I have this amazing book about baking by Nick Malgieri. It was a gift from my grandmother when I was around 13 years old. It has everything… cakes, breads, scones, pies. If you can bake it, it’s most likely in this book. Though I’ve had the book for nearly 20 years, I’ve barely scratched the surface of the recipes in it. It’s a BIG book. I remember the first time I attempted both the French baguettes and the meringue. I was making dinner for my then-boyfriend, Josh, on the occasion of his 24th birthday. I used his grandmother’s coconut cream pie recipe, but her recipe didn’t tell me how to make meringue so I got that from Nick. And it was awesome. And the French baguettes were awesome too! The only problem was this: those deliciously amazing baguettes took like 48 hours from start to finish! I mean, the planning required to pull that off! I made them several more times during our courtship and early marriage, but then. Then you guys, I had KIDS.
Guess what mommy brain does to you? Makes it near impossible to plan to make bread 48 hours in advance and complete all the required steps in the right order at the right time and have it ready when you want it to be fresh from the oven. I just couldn’t do it anymore! It was too hard for me. So I started buying my baguettes at the store. HEB made them pretty good, but I had a bad habit of mostly eating them before dinner time. And they would of course be stale if I tried to save them for a dinner on a different day than when I bought them. Thankfully, Pinterest was invented and somebody told me to get on it and I am so glad I did. Because Y’ALL, this recipe changed my life. I have made it so many times I don’t even need to consult the recipe anymore. You, too, can have fresh baked French-ish loaves in less than an hour. Come along, let me show you how.
|Can’t get much simpler than this ingredient line-up!|
First, get yourself 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Not too hot, not too cold… just right. Add two teaspoons of sugar and then 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast. Give it a little stir.
|Let is sit.|
While your yeast mixture is getting all foamy and awesome, you should get out your stand mixer with your regular beater (the one you would use to make cookies or whatever) and put 3 cups of flour and two teaspoons of salt into the bowl. Give it a little stir.
If your yeast mixture now looks like THIS, it’s time to move on.
If it doesn’t, be patient another minute or two. Turn your mixer on low and slowly pour in the yeast mixture. You will only mix it until the dough starts to hold together a bit.
|If you don’t have a dough hook, you’re going to have to use the original dough hooks: your hands. Good luck to you.|
Usually I just dump my dough on a piece of floured stoneware to shape them and finish up. I promise I did not pull out my pastry mat just to show off for you guys! Seriously, there’s a reason I got out the pastry mat. Today, I’m making one regular loaf and one loaf of…. cinnamon raisin bread!
So for regular bread, just divide your dough into two pieces, pat it into a loaf-like shape, cover it with a towel and leave it to rise for 30 minutes. ONLY 30 MINUTES. I know that sounds nuts but trust me, 30 minutes is all you need. The first time I made this I totally did not trust the recipe, and I let it rise for longer and the result was they rose so much they deflated on themselves and I got flat bread. It was UGLY. So really, set a timer for 30 minutes.
If you want to get fancy, you should melt some butter and get your fancy on. For cinnamon raisin bread, you will roll your dough out into a semi-rectangle, brush it liberally with melted butter, then dump a whole lotta sugar and cinnamon and raisins on top. Then, roll it up and pinch the seams and leave it to rise for 30 minutes like normal. Other variations you could try: garlic bread, cheesy bread, any-other-seasoning-you-have-in -your-pantry bread… Go crazy. Have fun. Bread is yummy.
|On your left, regular bread for dinner.
On your right, cinnamon raisin bread just for fun.
|Generosity is a virtue.|
|Ready to rise!|
When you bread has been rising about 15 minutes, you should preheat your oven. 450 is what you need. When your 30 minute rise time is up, slash the top of your loaves a few times with a serrated knife. Don’t go all serial killer on them, though. One time I was nursing the baby or something and asked Josh to do this step for me. He, like, seriously injured the bread. Ha!
Anyway, once you’ve slashed-but-not-pulverized your loaves, slide them in and set your timer for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, pull them out and brush the tops of the loaves with butter. Or, do like I do because I’m lazy and I like to do as few dishes as possible: partially unwrap a stick of butter and just run it all over the loaves like a glue stick. It totally works and I don’t have to melt butter and get a bowl and a brush dirty. Bam.
|This is the 8 minute mark, after I’ve slathered them with butter.|
Then slide them back into the oven for the final 8 minutes. The results are SPECTACULAR. And how long did this take? Less than an hour. You’re welcome.
|Perfection in a loaf! Or two loaves. Whatever.|
Go here for the official recipe from the amazing women who came up with this. I owe them a lot. Happy baking!