This week I am publishing a series on a classic French breakfast.
I have written recently about MY favorite French breakfast, pain au chocolat, but the typical French breakfast is simple; bread, butter and jam.
When I say bread, butter, and jam, of course I mean the very best bread, the very best cultured butter and jam that makes you want to dig in with nothing more than a spoon!
This week I am going to post three recipes, one for my very simple French Bread Loaves, Cultured Butter that is absolutely fascinating to make and packed with amazing flavor AND the inspiration for this series; my quick apricot jam that may just leave you speechless.
We will start with the foundation, the bread.
There is nothing like fresh homemade bread!! The house is filled with an aroma like no other. This recipe makes 2 soft loaves of bread. And no hand kneading is required. Just pour the ingredients in your electric mixer and let it go.
The dough rises for 1 1/2 hours on the counter-top and is ready to be formed into loaves.
Punch the dough down and pour out onto a floured surface.
Cut the dough into two equal portions and flatten each into a rectangle.
Roll the rectangles into loaves, pinch as you roll. Place on a baking stone and let rise again for about 1 hour.
Using a sharp knife or a lame, slit the top of each loaf, this will allow the moisture from the loaf to escape as it cooks. For a shiny and crisp outer texture, brush the surface with an egg wash.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes and you will have golden brown perfection!
The loaves freeze quite well, so you can have 1 loaf now and the second later. I buy extra-large zip top bags and pop a loaf in the freezer as soon as it is completely cool!
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups bread flour
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Using an electric mixer with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water on low speed and mix for 2 minutes to dissolve the yeast. Add half of the flour and mix to combine. Add remaining flour and salt and continue to mix with the speed on low just until the dough starts to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and crawls up to dough hook, about 4 minutes.
Grease a mixing bowl with the oil. Place the dough in the greased bowl and turn once. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft free place until the dough doubles in size about 1 1/2 hours.
Remove the dough from the bowl and invert it onto a heavily floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each portion into a large rectangle, about 3/4-inch thick. Roll up the dough, beginning with the short side and stopping after each full turn to press the edge of the roll firmly into the flat sheet of dough, press with your fingertips to seal an continue until you are to the end of the dough. Seal the seam of the dough by pinching with your fingers. Tuck and seal the edges of the dough for each of the corners.
Place the dough seems side down and cover the loaves with a cloth and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees. With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes, about 1-inch apart, on the top of each loaf. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash evenly over each loaf. Place a cup of hot water in an oven-proof container on the baking sheet with the loaves. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Slice to serve.
Stay tuned for the Cultured Butter and the Quick Apricot Jam later this week!