The aroma of crusty French bread transports you to the picturesque sidewalks of Paris. Moist and chewy inside, with a sesame-studded crust, this bread pairs perfectly with cheeses, salads and soups.
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 (0.25-ounce) package active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Pour warm water (105°° to 115°F | 40°C to 45°C) into a large bowl; sprinkle yeast over top. Stir in sugar, shortening and salt. Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture forms a soft dough. Knead until smooth, about 5 minutes; leave covered with a tea towel in a warm place; allow to rise for at least 60 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Meanwhile generously grease a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan; punch down to press out air; place in pan. Allow to rise for about 60 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
- Slash the top diagonally in two or three places, brush with egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Bread will make a hollow sound when tapped.
Makes 1 loaf.
Tip: French bread can also be baked on a flat sheet and shaped by hand. A one-pound loaf, rolled into a long shape and slashed diagonally along its length, is called a baguette, French for rod.