My sister Elske is spending the next five months in England, studying rainworms for her master’s in Biology. (I do Mormons, she does rainworms…apparently, semi-random research topics run in the family.) So she came over on Saturday for an impromptu sleepover.
Our get-togethers usually include macaroni and cheese, sometimes of the Kraft variety, sometimes slightly less processed. But since B. was home for dinner and mac & cheese might kill him (he has weird ideas about what constitutes real food), Elske came up with an alternative: cheese fondue.
In the morning, I was seized by a fit of baking inspiration. So I made both chocolate chip cookies and French bread. The cookie recipe came from Smitten Kitchen and I highly recommend it. The French bread was a recipe from A Hint of Honey which I slightly adapted. Both are more than worth your time. (Mmm, carbs.)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbsp. instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 – 1 1/2 cups flour, for kneading
1 egg white (plus a little water, for the eggwash)
Preheat the oven to 375F/175C. Combine the flour and yeast. Stir in the water, olive oil, sugar, and salt until combined. Gradually add the 1/2-1 1/2 cups of flour, until the dough comes together. Knead on a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if necessary, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky (about five minutes).
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle, and roll it up tightly (beginning at the long side). Tuck the ends under for a neater roll and place with the seam down on a piece of parchment paper or greased cookie sheet.
Take a sharp knife and cut diagonal slits across the top of the loaf, about 1/4 inch deep. Whisk the egg and water together and brush the eggwash over the loaf. Let rise for about 45 minutes or an hour. Mine looked like this:
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when you tap on it. (That’s my favorite part.) Let cool before you slice it.
Oh, and you probably already know this, but if you poke your bread while it’s rising, you’ll deflate it. And that is a very sorry sight. So don’t do that. (If you have any common sense left over, please send it my way, as it seems like I could use it.)