This bread can be on your table from Go to Whoa in just over an hour. Which is either marvelous or disastrous depending on which side of the carb fence you're on.
Fast and Fabulous French Bread
adapted from Eat Cake for Dinner
Makes 3 small loaves
1 cup boiling water
1 cup cold water
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon salt
15g unsalted butter
5 - 6 cups "00" flour
1 egg, beaten
Preheat the oven to 80C. (*Yes, that's 80C not 180C. The low starting temperature gives the bread a little rising before you hit it with the heat).
Spray a large baking tray with cooking oil spray and set aside.
Pour the 1/3 cup of warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water, mix with a fork and set aside for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the sugar, salt and butter. Pour over the boiling water and mix until the butter has melted. Add the cold water and mix. Add the yeast mixture and mix again.
Add half the flour to the bowl and mix on low. Then add enough of the remaining flour until a soft dough forms (I used 6 cups). Keep the mixer on low and mix for 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and leave the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking tray and divide it into three equal portions. Let the dough rest for another 5 minutes.
Using your fingertips, spread each portion of dough out to a rectangle. Roll them up like a Swiss roll length ways and then fold the two ends in toward each other. Turn them over so that they are seam-side down. You can tuck the edges in to create smooth tops and sides if you like, though it's not necessary.
Spray a sharp knife with cooking oil spray and make three diagonal slashes into the tops of each loaf. Brush with beaten egg and bake at 80C for 15 minutes (*See note above). After 15 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 200C and bake for a further 15 - 20 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 180C and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool (a little) before slicing.