Right now I should be feeling overwhelmed and crazy and just plain out of sorts. We are moving in 12 days. We still have a good amount of packing to get done. We will be living out of suitcases for a few weeks at the parents house until our new place is available. Then we will move AGAIN. Normal, crazy me would be running around super stressed out, not able to think straight, just plain unhappy. God, however, is at work. He has given me a big dose of joy and incredible sense of calm. I don’t get it. I keep waiting for the insanity to hit. Maybe it will. Which is why I thought I should get this out there before it does so I can remember just how c-a-l-m I feel, for now anyway. If you know me at all, you know this is unheard of. Change = Stress. Thank you Lord for not allowing me to be so ME!
Today was the first day back in the office after 13 days in a row off. The time was glorious. There was a good amount of packing done along with a healthy dose of Netflix binging and, of course, cooking. It was so nice to sleep in. To not know what day it was. To just relax and enjoy having time to myself. That said, I thought that today may bring some feelings of dread. Not gonna lie, it definitely wasn’t easy to get up in the morn to an alarm clock and it was kinda strange actually putting real clothes and makeup on versus living in pj’s, stretchy pants and sweatshirts. BUT can I just say that I am happy to be at work! It was a dear coworker’s birthday so we all pitched in to bring morning treats, lunch, dessert, more dessert, gifts, etc. I am so blessed to be a part of a team that cares for and loves one another. I was reflecting on how great a “vacation” I had and realized just how much I missed these ladies in my daily life. Thanks Lord for knowing what I need, who I need and always providing. So blessed.
Onto the bread now which is a blessing in itself! On the break, I started going through our kitchen and trying to use up anything and everything that I possibly can. When I found 10 pounds (no joke) TEN POUNDS of flour, I knew homemade bread was in my future. I had just made this Skinny Potato Leek Soup and knew this Homemade French Bread would be the perfect accompaniment. Plus, making it totally makes you feel like you’re Martha Stewart. I mean, c’mon – You’re not just baking bread here, you are making a real loaf of FRENCH BREAD! I found this recipe on Pinterest (shocking, I know) and traced it back to The Six Sister’s Cafe. If I can do it, so can you. Mine may not look as professional as the OG version but it tastes superb! The recipe makes 2 loaves so you can eat one and give one away or wrap it up in foil, stick it in the freezer and save it for later. Perrrrfect.
Having a Kitchen Aid mixer is handy and does make it a little easier but it’s definitely not a necessity! Here we go: In a large bowl or in your mixer bowl, dissolve the sugar and yeast in warm water. Let it proof (sit there) for a few minutes until it gets bubbly like so.
Add salt, oil, 3 cups of flour and beat well (I use my paddle attachment). Stir really well until combined if not using a mixer. Now, I would switch to my dough hook and add in 2 1/2 cups more flour. If mixing by hand, keep it up – you’re doing great! The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too sticky. Add another 1/2 cup flour, only if needed (I’ve never had to add it). Knead for a few minutes. In a mixer, you can keep the dough in and continue to use the dough hook. No mixer peeps – take your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and take out some aggression =) Knead away. Now you’re going to let the dough rest for 10 minutes, knead (or turn your mixer on) for 10 seconds, then rest for 10 more minutes. Do this knead/rest combo for a TOTAL of 5 times ending with a rest.
After the last 10 minute rest, turn dough onto a floured surface and divide it into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a 9 x 13 rectangle. Or as close as you can get. If the dough is fighting with you and keeps shrinking up, let it rest for 5 more minutes and try again.
Now we’re going to pretend like we’re making cinnamon rolls all over again. This time, there’s no filling. Roll up the 9 x 13 rectangle starting with the long end furthest from you. Roll toward you until you reach the end. Pinch the seam closed tight and arrange seam side down on a large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal. Repeat with the second half of dough. With a sharp knife, cut 3-4 gashes at an angle on the top of each loaf.
Cover lightly and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Brush entire surface with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool on racks. After cool, you can wrap well in heavy duty foil and freeze to save for later, if you’d like!
- 2 ¼ c. warm water
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp yeast
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 5 ½ -6 cups flour-stirred before measured
- Egg wash: 1 egg, 1 Tbsp water
- Dissolve sugar and yeast in the warm water. Let this proof—or sit for a few minutes until it bubbles.
- Add salt, oil, 3 cups of flour and beat well (I use my paddle attachment).
- I switch to my dough hook and add in 2½ -3 more cups of flour. The dough should clean off the sides of the bowl and not be too sticky. (*Start with 2½ and add another ½ cup, only if needed).
- Knead for a few minutes. Leave the dough in the mixer to rest for 10 minutes and then stir it down (turn on your mixer for 10 seconds) and then allow to rest another 10 minutes. Repeat for a total of 5 times. (Mix 10 seconds & Rest 10 minutes TIMES 5!)
- After the last 10 minute rest, turn dough onto a floured surface and divide into 2 equal parts. Roll each part into a 9×13 rectangle. If the dough is not rolling out well and keeps shrinking up, let it rest 5 more minutes and try rolling again.
- Roll dough up, starting from long edge of loaf to seal. (Like a cinnamon roll!) Arrange seam side down on large baking sheet that’s been sprinkled with corn meal.
- Repeat with second part of dough. With a sharp knife, cut 3 gashes at an angle on the top of each.
- Cover lightly and allow to rise 30 minutes. Brush entire surface with egg wash (one egg beaten slightly with 1 Tbsp of water).
- Bake for 30 minutes at 375. Cool on racks. Extra loaf can be wrapped in foil and frozen for later at this point.