Little French Loaf

frenchloafI’m not much of a bread baker, and as I work to build my skills, I have many challenges. One of those challenges is that a lot of bread recipes make one or two loaves, and Mike and I simply aren’t going to eat that much bread. Enter One Dish Kitchen, a collection of small-batch recipes perfect for two. I found this recipe for a small loaf of French bread there, and am very pleased with how it turned out.

Flavor-wise it was perfect, but texture-wise it was denser than I’d have liked. I’m not sure if I kneaded it too much or too little, didn’t give it enough time to rise, or some other mysterious bread-related factor that I’ve yet to learn…but I am determined to learn. Small loaves are perfect for practice, so I intend to make this one again many times until I’ve mastered it. And as a woman who spent literal years perfecting her buttercream, I’m up to the challenge.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 6 ounces warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, honey, and water. Sprinkle yeast over water and allow it to dissolve, then mix with your paddle attachment on medium speed until the dough comes together. You can either knead your dough using the dough hook on your mixer, or by hand – I kneaded by hand for the practice.

Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place back in your mixing bowl, cover the top with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 4-5 times to deflate it slightly. Cover it with a kitchen towel and allow it to rest for about 10 minutes. Shape the dough as desired – I went with a general oval loaf shape – place it on a baking sheet, and cover it with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise a second time for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a very sharp knife, make slashes in the top of your dough, then brush the whole loaf with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with remaining kosher salt; bake for 18-20 minutes.

Remove loaf from oven and allow it to cool on your baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then place it on a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before serving. Makes about 8 slices, depending on how generously you cut each slice. Store in a large zip-top bag at room temperature for 2-3 days.