The key to this, and any recipe with yeast, is keeping it warm. Many people claim that they just cannot make bread no matter what they do. My mother is one of these people, but it's not that they have some chemical element in their hands that prevents the yeast from doing it's job...it's simply that they are impatient. The time a bread recipe usually gives for allowing the dough to rise, or proof, is usually in one hour increments. The reality is that your dough should double in size each time you proof it. More if you like really light airy bread, less if you prefer it a little denser. So if it's been an hour and your bread doesn't seem to have doubled in size try moving it to a darker, warmer, corner of the kitchen and letting it sit for an extra half hour or so.

And a word (or four) on storage: AIR IS THE ENEMY! Once your bread has cooled bag it in a very airtight bag. Bread in general, whether homemade or store bought will go stale and hard very quickly if not closed up tight with the air squeezed out.

Tomato Herb French Bread

yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:
2 c. tepid water
2 tsp./1 pkg. dry yeast
2 tsp. honey*
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
5 c. flour**
1 large tomato or 2 small ones
*I use honey in place of sugar whenever I can. It's just better for ya. You can of course, substitute the same amount of "evil white refined sugar" if you want.

**For BEST results I use 4 c. white bread flour and 1 c.+2 tbls. cake flour. But you can use plain unbleached white flour if thats whats in your cupboard. Just sift it 3 or 4 times to get it nice and fluffy : ) Also, when measuring flour, always spoon flour from the bag into the measuring cup as opposed to scooping the cup into the bag, and use the back of a knife to level the cup off.

Directions:
1. Dissolve Yeast and honey in warm water. Let proof while mixing dry ingredients.
2. Mix dry ingredients and sift 2-4 times, depending on which types of flour you are using.
3. Add yeast mix, mix well and place in a well-oiled bowl turning once to coat the top. Cover with a towel and let rise one hour in a warm dry spot.
4. Shape into 2 loaves approx. 1 ft. each. Cover and let rise one more hour.
5. Thinly slice tomatoe/s and place along the top of each loaf and bake 30-35 minutes in an oven preheated to 425 degrees.

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