Simple French Bread

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We've just returned from our trip upstate to see my family for the holidays, and bread should be the last thing on my mind.  After a week of not thinking twice about eating 3 pastizzi in one sitting (in a Maltese family these are a Christmas must-have) or devouring dozens of cookies, I'd planned on chowing down salads as soon as possible.   

Naturally, I ended up making bread.  I've just discovered the magic of a kitchen aid mixer, having not owned one until this week (thank you Mom!) and needed to put it to good use the minute we walked in the door.  I haven't made a proper sourdough starter yet, it's one of those things that has been on my to-do list for way too long, so I opted to try out a simplified and quicker version of a French sourdough.  It's a basic and easygoing recipe if you're still honing your bread making.        

Simple French Bread

4-5 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons oat bran
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 packages instant dry yeast
1 cup warm water, about 115° 
1 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Cooking spray

Combine 1 and 1/2 cups bread flour, oat bran, sugar, salt, ground ginger and yeast in a large bowl.  Stir in greek yogurt, warm water and vinegar until well combined.  Add about 2 cups more flour until the dough begins to form.

Sprinkle your counter or work surface with flour.  Place the dough on top and begin kneading, adding in about 1/2 cup more flour until the dough is smooth.  Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning the dough to grease all sides.  Cover with a towel and let rise for about 25 minutes. 

Preheat your oven to 375 and grease a large baking pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Turn the dough onto the counter and punch down, cover with the overturned bowl and let rise for  15 minutes.  Divide the dough in half to form two equal sized balls, shaping as you see fit. Cover and let the dough rise on the stovetop for another 15 minutes.  

Once the bread has baked for 25 minutes, brush the outside with the beaten egg white.  Continue baking for 5-10 minutes until the bread is golden-brown.