I was so excited when I saw this recipe for french bread in Living Without, so excited that I special ordered a french bread pan. My french bread came out really good - slightly chewy with a pretty crumb. I was too impatient to take the extra steps of putting a bowl of water in the oven while the bread baked to get a crunchy crust. I didn't think to brush the top of the loaf with olive oil for a shiny crust. I forgot to take the bread out of the pan and put it on the oven rack to bake for an extra 5 minutes so it could get a nice, crusty bottom. So the outside of my bread looked a little unpolished, but the inside of my bread tasted great. The girls like it! Next time I'll remember to do the little tricks to make it look more french-bready than batter-bready, but seriously, I'm pretty happy with this! Don't let the idea of gluten free, casein free french bread intimidate you - it's very easy to make (and even easier to eat). My favorite way to enjoy french bread is warm and dipped in olive oil and salt. It's also good dipped in soup, spread with hummus or olive tapenade, topped with tomato and sprinkled with salt and pepper....oh my, I need to go make some more french bread!
3 cups high protein flour blend
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. active dry yeast or 2 tsp. rapid rise yeast
1 -2 tsp. dried rosemary or other herb (I used 1 tsp. dried rosemary)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
cornmeal for dusting
Lightly spray a double french bread pan with cooking spray and dust with cornmeal. Set aside.
Sift together the flour through the herbs. Combine the olive oil and warm water and addt to dry ingredients. Beat on medium-high speed for 4 minutes.
Spoon half of the dough into each loaf pan, spreading the dough into the shape of a french loaf - this is easiest done with a greased spatula (spray spatula with cooking spray as needed while spreading the batter). The loaves should each be 10 - 12 inches long.
Cover loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes, or until the loaves are doubled in size and the middle of the loaves come to the top of the bread pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, cover with tin foil if browning too fast, and bake another 10 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
*Update 10/16/08 - I put a bowl of water in an ovenproof bowl with 1 cup of water in it on the lowest rack of the oven for the first 15 minutes while baking. Then I removed the bowl of water and finished baking the bread. The crust turned out nice and crispy, more like french bread.