Delicious and Easy French Bread
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbs yeast
3 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs white vinegar
1 Tbs salt
1/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable works)
6-7 cups flour
cornmeal and cooking spray as needed
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Mix together the warm water, yeast, sugar and vinegar. Allow to sit until bubbly, about 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer, with a hand mixer, or by hand, combine yeast mixture, salt and oil. Mix in flour, one cup at a time, until just firm enough to shape, but it should still be very soft.
Knead 3 - 5 minutes. Use your dough hook or knead by hand.
Spray a little cooking spray into bowl and turn dough over to lightly coat.
Place bowl into cold oven. Turn light on inside the oven.
Boil a small pot of water and put pot of boiling water into oven with the dough to create a steam-cabinet-like environment. The heat from the light inside the oven will also help the dough rise.
When the dough rises above the rim of the bowl, punch down. Repeat this 2-5 times, depending on how much time you have to babysit the dough. When you punch down, re-boil the water and re-place into the oven.
Once you punch down the last time, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into half or thirds, depending on how big you want the loaves to be.
Shape the loaves into desired shape. Slash the top to allow expansion.
Allow to rise about 30 minutes on the counter. Spritz the top with water or cooking spray to allow proper rising.
Preheat oven to 375.
Place the loaves onto pans sprayed with cooking spray and lightly dusted with cornmeal.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and allow to cool on a rack.
Serve it however you'd like. It's delicious as-is, too.
Freezing Instructions: Yes, you can freeze this dough! It turns out just as delicious, too!
Once you punch it down once or twice, divide the dough. Cut off what you plan on using then put the rest into a plastic freezer bag that's been sprayed with cooking spray. When you're ready to use it, pull it out of the freezer and put it into the oven to rise. Follow the instructions above regarding shaping and cooking.