Ruth Thurston in Machias sent this recipe along for Quick French Bread. It went over nicely at our house, and a supper guest, who fortunately feels very at home in our kitchen, couldn’t resist slicing off a pre-supper slab from a loaf resting on the counter.

You can end up with your finished loaves in a about two hours. The bread has a coarser crumb than a classic French loaf but a nice crusty exterior as long as you provide the required pan of hot water in the oven. We ate one with supper one night, and ate another as garlic bread with spaghetti another night.

Ruth annotated the recipe by penciling in 5½ by the amount of flour in place of the 5 to 6 cups of flour that the original called for. Good advice.

Make sure you have a teakettle of water on for boiling water as you get ready to form the bread dough into loaves and note that you start with a cold oven.

Quick French Bread

Yields two loaves.

2 cups lukewarm water

2 envelopes or 2 tablespoons dry yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

5 to 5½ cups flour


Put the water in a large bowl, and add yeast, salt and sugar. Beat in flour a cup at a time. When the flour has been all taken up, drizzle a little oil on top and rub the whole ball of dough with it. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rise until doubled, less than an hour; check after 30 minutes.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.

When dough is doubled, punch it down, knead it until smooth and divide into two (or three) long loaves, and place on baking sheet. Allow to rise five minutes. Wet hands with cold water and dampen exterior of the loaves. Slash top in a few places with a very sharp knife or razor blade. Place the bread on top rack of oven, and place a pan of boiling hot water under the baking sheet. Turn oven on and set it at 400 degrees. Bake loaves for about 40 minutes, or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them.

Looking for…

“No-bake” cheesecake. Anna Guesman of Bangor wrote, “I would love to have a good recipe for no-bake cheese cake. There are many variations out there and some are outstanding.” If you have a recipe that you use and really like, Anna and I (and especially my cheesecake-loving husband, Jamie) would be happy to hear from you.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...