December 12, 2011

Easy French Loaves

For frantic days and too-short weekends, I make these lazy loaves. It is almost embarrassing to post about a recipe so simple that it warrants a time disclaimer of "2 hours, mostly unattended" but these are foolproof staples that will leave you to your laundromat trips, morning park jogs, and numerous unfinished projects. Thanks to PA from Lincoln, Oregon who taught me how to knead and to Mark Bittman for convincing me that sometimes it's ok to forfeit the sticky hands and messy countertop for your beloved food processor.

3 1/2 c. flour (AP, or 2 1/2 cups AP and 1 cup Whole Wheat)
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. yeast
1 tsp. sugar or agave nectar
warm water

In a large food processor, mix together the flour(s), salt, and yeast with the knife fixture. Dissolve the sugar or agave in a few cups of warm water. Next, turn the food processor on and pour in the sugar-water while mixing. Add water until the dough forms a loose ball and process for a few more seconds. If it gets too wet, don't worry! Just add more flour. Once the dough has formed into a ball and seems elastic, place into an oiled bowl. Cover tightly with a plastic grocery bag and place in a warm place to rise. Let sit until doubled (at least an hour). Once doubled, place a shallow pan filled with water on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat to 400. On an oiled baking sheet, form the loaves into two long baguettes and cover. Let the loaves proof and the oven preheat for about 30 minutes. Once risen, slash the loaves and top with seeds if desired. Place the loaves in the oven and turn the heat down to 375. Bake, spraying the oven often with water to ensure a nice crumb, until the bread is browned on the outsides and the underside sounds hollow when tapped. Spray with water once more for a shiny crust and let cool before slicing.


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