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Parmesan French Bread
Really a very simple one - it borrows from standard french bread, but with a little extra touch...
8 cups of all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon of yeast
1/4 to 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (ANY BRAND)
Mix the above in a large bowl (rubberized plastic is best - it won't stick to it when the water is added)
*DRY mixing at this point gets everything distributed evenly
2 1/3 cups of the warmest/hottest water that comes out of your kitchen sink. I try to keep things simple... The proportion is EXACT! I have tried several different amounts, and this makes the perfect dough consistancy.
Use the back of a wooden spoon to get things mostly mixed together. When it gets close to well mixed, dig in with your (clean) hands and knuckle the rest of the flour into the dough. Don't worry much about lumps - the water will evenly distribute before the next step.
Place a cover over the bowl, and walk away from it for about a half hour. In this amount of time (if it was in a warm place) it should have about doubled. If it hasn't - you can give it more time. About one hour is the most it should take if enough yeast was added. PUNCH IT DOWN, then divide the dough in half, shape it into torpedos the length of the oven sheet the long way, and put it on an oven sheet sprinkled with corn meal.
Break an egg into a clean jar. Mix at least an equal amount of water with the egg (more if you want to stretch it out) put the lid on and shake it up.
Make a long slice down each loaf the long way, and brush the egg mixture on with a basting brush -this is your "GLAZE", and its important.
Let the loafs sit for twenty minutes, then come back and start your oven pre-heating to 375 degrees. As above - you can let the loaves rise for a while longer, its up to you. After ten minutes, put the loafs in the oven, and set a timer for twenty minutes. This timing is critical - its the average time for most ovens to either produce a brown crust, or to do something miserable and unexpected... My oven happens to maintain temperature very well, so this works every time.
* 'Round about now, you should be smelling something "Parmesanish" from the general direction of your kitchen...
When the timer goes off - get the loafs out, and brush them again with the glaze. Put them back in the oven for ten more minutes....
They should come out nicely browned, if not - risk another five minutes.
Allow to cool, what you should have then is better than anything you've gotten at Walmart, and only cost a third as much to make!
I AM an itinerant bachelor - I am not supposed to know how to do things like this. But I enjoy good eating, and this is something that my inherent frugality caused me to go and explore. I knew somehow that it could not possibly be all that difficult. Therefore - you can do this too. Successfully, I might add...
PS: Wanna make plain French bread? Leave out the Parmesan. It comes out the same as what you see on the racks at Walmart.
Garlic bread? Add garlic...
Ditto Jalapeno (but the peppers have to be dried first, and ground)
I made six loafs of bread today, and they cost me about a buck and a half!
Think outside of the box - especially if you built it yourself
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