The first time I went to Paris, I was completely taken with three very humble food items: The bread, the butter and the coffee. Going from cafe to boulangerie to patisserie to fromagier could happily take up most of the day’s walk.
That was 18 years ago. And while my culinary fascinations, in Paris or other, have certainly advanced, the bread is still the thing.
This one is lovely, easy and there’s no kneading involved. Just a roll over with a good heavy rolling pin.
2 Tablespoons Yeast
1/2 cup Warm Water
2 cups Hot Water
3 Tablespoons Sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/3 cup Oil
6 1/2 cups Flour
1 Egg for brushing on bread
Flaked finishing salt (I used large flake truffle salt)
In a small bowl, dissolve your yeast in ½ cup warm water. Make sure that your water is warm (not too cold, not too hot). Let proof for 10 minutes.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine hot water, sugar, salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour and mix together. Add the yeast mixture to a bowl.
Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of flour, one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Watch for it to start pulling away from the bowl to know it’s ready. Once all of the flour is added, let sit for 10 minutes.
Separate your dough into 3 pieces. On a floured surface roll each piece into a 9x12 rectangle. Roll it up like a jelly roll. Shape into a french bread loaf and smooth out edges.
Place the dough on a greased baking pan or a Silpat, seam side down. Using a knife, make 3-4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch thick in bread. Brush with your beaten egg.
Let dough rise uncovered for 30-40 minutes in a warm place.
Sprinkle some flaked salt across the top of the loaf - it give a great texture and flavor to the bread. Bake at 375 for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.
Because I just can’t STOP myself from gilding the lily, I served this with a little herbed compound butter, some roasted garlic, and a good friend. Hopefully we’ll start having more of those “good friends in the house” kind of days.