Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mom's French Bread

Living far away from family, sometimes I have to create a little bit of "home" here. Growing up my go-to meal request was homemade lasagna and this French bread. Nearly every birthday I can recall featured this as my birthday dinner. It was just the thing last week on the tail end of a blizzard and sub-zero temperatures. Somehow, all felt a little bit better in the world with my favorite meal on the table.

This isn't your crusty French bread loaf. It's soft, with a tiny crumb, perfect for mopping up lasagna. I love the shiny crust and the sesame seeds. Though I enjoy loaves of rustic, crisp-crusted bread, this is my all time favorite.

Mom's French Bread
Originally from a 70s era church cookbook. Lucky for our community, Mom submitted it to a more recent church cookbook. And lucky for me that she did, because most of her recipes are just a list of ingredients and a time and temperature. This one is a little more involved than that!

2 packages (4 1/2 tsp.) dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. hot water
3 TB. sugar
1 TB. salt
1/3 c. oil
6 c. flour

To top:
1 beaten egg
Sesame seeds

Dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl combine sugar, salt, oil, hot water and 1/2 the flour. Stir in dissolved yeast mixture and remaining flour.
Turn out on floured surface (or leave in bowl of stand mixer) and knead 5 to 8 minutes. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead about 100 strokes (I knead for 1 minute in my mixer). Allow to rest 10 minutes. Repeat until dough has been kneaded 5 times.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle, 9 x 12 inches. Roll loosely, as for a jelly roll, starting from the long end and sealing ends. Place seam side down on a greased (or parchment lined) cookie sheet (half sheet pan). Arrange so both loaves fit on one sheet. (Or just make shaggy loaves without the rolling. It will all even out in the rising.)
Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Gash top of loaf with a sharp knife.
Allow to rise 30 minutes, then bake for 30-35 minutes at 400° until golden brown. Let cool before slicing.

{Since there are only two in our household, I chose to make four loaves, half the size (and used a quarter-sheet pan), and baked for a little bit less time. One loaf was devoured at dinner, one was saved for the next day, one went into the freezer and one was given to a single classmate of my husband's. The guy thought he'd hit the jackpot!}


  1. That looks divine! Funny, I made lasagna on Sunday and wanted to make french bread but didn't because I couldn't find a good recipe. Can't wait to try this one!

  2. I'm going to give this a try, looks sooooo good. Thanks for sharing!