There’s really nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. It’s truly a treat for all five senses, and if you’ve never experienced it, you don’t know what you’re missing.
It’s understandable why many people haven’t bothered to make their own bread at home. The process can be a bit intensive for something that’s so readily available in supermarkets but if you enjoy baking and are looking for your next challenge, here it is! And trust us, like anything homemade, you’ll be able to taste the difference between your bread and store-bought bread. Just remember to read all the instructions before you start, get the best ingredients you can find, and take your time. Great bread can't be rushed.
We also realize we should've started you off with something a little simpler but we believe in you. Now go make some bread!
Crusty French Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2⁄3 cup warm (105–110°F) warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
1 cup cake flour
1⁄3 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 cup cold water
Extra flour for dusting bread
Place warm water in the mixing bowl of your Cuisinart™ 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer. Stir in yeast and a tablespoon of the flour; let stand for 5 minutes, until mixture is foamy and bubbly.
While yeast is proofing, combine 3 cups of all-purpose flour and ½ cup of cake flour with the wheat germ and salt. Add the cold water and the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Insert the dough hook and mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Combine remaining flours and reserve. Continuing on speed 2, add the remaining flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms that clings to the dough hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. Set the timer for 4 minutes and the speed to 3 to allow the dough to knead.
Dust dough ball lightly with flour and place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, recover, and let rise again until doubled in size. (This last rise can be omitted if pressed for time, but makes for a more flavorful loaf, with a more artisanal bread texture and crust.) Punch dough down and divide into 2 pieces. Shape each into a long narrow loaf, about 16 to 18 inches in length, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Dust loaves generously with flour. Make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf about ¼-inch deep using a serrated knife. Bake in preheated 425°F oven 25 to 30 minutes until browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Bread slices best when allowed to cool completely before slicing.