08 September 2014

Fast & Fabulous French Bread

Bread & butter; one of life’s simple pleasures.  Even better if it is home baked. The aroma of fresh bread baking wafting from the oven making you wait, me becoming impatient as it tempts & tantalises.  And then once out the oven more waiting, well if you can , before slicing & slathering with butter. 

Biting in to fresh golden crispy crust giving way to a warm interior, butter melting, maybe even running down chin. So comforting, so toasty & buttery delicious.  Nothing else needed; perfect just as it is.

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” 
James Beard

This one from Jamie over at Life’s a Feast via Milk & Honey via Eat Cake for Dinner... a recipe passed on spreading a little joy; a little pay it forward with deliciousness. I love all sorts of bread & more often than not it’s brown & full of grains but the pinnacle of bread for me is white bread.  There’s just nothing quite like it & so this fabulous & fast white bread caught my eye & had to be baked.  It will keep for a few days & makes for good toast & then a few days old & it satisfied my craving for eggy bread top with thyme fried mushrooms & on the sided a crispy bacon & balsamic & thyme roasted tomatoes.

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...

[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world's sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” 
M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

Fast & Fabulous French Bread

*I used half white spelt flour & half “00” flour & made 2 loaves instead of 3

Makes 2 loaves


1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp salt
15g unsalted butter
2-3 cups "00" flour
2-3 cups white spelt flour
1 egg, beaten


Preheat the oven to 80C / 175F 

*Yes, that's 80C not 180C. The low starting temperature lets the bread have a little rising time before turning it up.

Spray a large baking tray with cooking oil & set aside.

Pour the 1/3 cup of warm water into a small bowl & sprinkle over the yeast, whisk a little & set it aside for 5 minutes. Place the sugar, salt & butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Pour over the boiling water & mix until the butter has melted.  Add the cold water, mix, add the yeast mixture & mix again until all combined.

Add half the flour & mix on low speed. Next add enough of the remaining flour until a soft dough forms (I used 5 & a half cups). Keep the mixer on low & mix for 8 minutes. Stop the mixer & leave the dough to rest for 5 minutes.

Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking tray & divide it into 2 equal portions & allow it to rest for another 5 minutes.

Using your fingertips, spread each portion of dough out to a rectangle. Roll them up like a Swiss roll length ways & then fold the two ends in toward each other. Turn them over so that they are seam-side down. You can tuck the edges in to create smooth tops & sides if you like, or you can leave & go rustic.

Spray a sharp knife with cooking oil & make three diagonal slashes into the tops of each loaf. Brush with the beaten egg & bake at the low heat for 15 minutes before turning up the temperature to 200C/390F & bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180C/350F & bake for a final 10 minutes. The bread should be golden & sound hollow if you tap it,

Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool for as long as you can resist before slicing & spreading generously with butter.



  1. Oh, I do so love good bread and so totally agree with James:)

    1. Absolutely! Nothing beats fresh baked bread & butter :)


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