My friend Marion is an impeccable cook, one who always enjoys the challenge of a new recipe.
Months ago, when I was reeling from the loss of my dog Misty, Marion kindly brought me a loaf of this wonderful bread. It was love at first bite.
I confess that bread making has never been a strong suit for me. This bread, though, is as easy to make as it is delicious.
Marion tells me the recipe originated in a 1980 edition of a cookbook by the Junior League of Palo Alto. The recipe that follows was adapted from that original recipe. Marion says that this bread is wonderful slathered with good quality butter (Kerrygold Irish butter is a good choice) and eaten with a fresh red radish. I’m thinking this would be spectacular slightly toasted with a generous schmear of bitter orange marmalade.
Recipe: French Peasant Bread
2 C. lukewarm water
2 1/4 t. dry yeast
1 T. sugar
2 t. salt
4 C. bread flour
1 T. cornmeal
Poppy Seeds to sprinkle on the top of the finished loaves
Combine water, yeast, sugar and salt in a large warm bowl . Stir mixture until dissolved. Let yeast mixture sit for a few minutes until it is frothy. Stir in bread flour and mix with your hands until the flour is fully incorporated into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a buttered plate.
Clean the bowl and grease with butter. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp tower. Let the bread dough rise in a warm place for 45 minutes or until double in bulk.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle sheet with 1 T. of cornmeal. . Butter your hands and divide the dough into two portions. Shape each portion into a short oblong loaf. Place loaves on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a damp cloth and let the loaves rise for another 45 minutes until almost doubled.
Score the tops of loaves with a bread lame or a sharp knife. Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter.
Bake loaves for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then, reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for another 20-30 minutes until tops of loaves are a light golden brown.
Remove loaves from oven and brush with more melted butter.