Heather Reedy shares a French bread recipe she bakes outside on the grill.

More than 20 years ago, Heather Reedy started baking for a small general store in Clark, Colorado. She baked six types of bread for sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and other breakfast foods.

“I was long on enthusiasm, and short on experience,” she says. “It was the best baking job ever. The store had an open kitchen so you could see customers come and go. I got really good at [making] bread really fast.”

Today, Reedy lives in a small, rural bunkhouse in Montana with her husband, John, and children, Brigid and Johnny, who are sensations on the Western music scene. Reedy enjoys preparing meals to share with her family, and, in the fall, she harvests and preserves autumn fruits and berries for jams and jellies.

Here, she shares a simple French bread recipe based on the one she used at the Clark Store.

Heather Reedy’s French bread recipe is based on one she used while baking bread at a northern Colorado general store 20 years ago. Photo by John Reedy

“I’ve made it regularly for 20 years, but the recipe evolved for baking on a [propane] grill,” she explains. “Last summer, it was sweltering in the bunkhouse and I couldn’t bake bread.”

She places a pizza stone on the grill rack to stabilize the temperature. Then she places an upside down vegetable grill basket on top of the pizza stone and tops it with the French bread pan and loaves. The vegetable basket allows the bread to bake slowly away from the flames.

Her family and friends love the wood-fired flavor of the bread and ask her to prepare it on the grill even when it’s cool outside.

French Bread

Ingredients:

1 cups warm water

1 teaspoon active dry yeast 

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2½ cups flour

Directions:

Pour water into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over the surface to dissolve. Proof yeast for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Add salt, oil and 2 cups of flour and mix by hand, or in a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add just enough flour to make a soft (but not sticky) dough. Knead until pliable and smooth, about 5 minutes in a mixer or 10 minutes by hand. Form dough into a ball and let rise in a lightly oiled, covered bowl or large measuring cup until doubled (about 1 hour). 

Mist the bread with a spray bottle three times during the first 10 minutes of baking.
Photo by John Reedy

Lightly grease a long loaf pan and sprinkle with corn meal (or use a cookie sheet lined with parchment, though the finished loaf will be flatter). Punch down, turn out and shape dough into a long loaf, then let rise, covered, in loaf pan until almost doubled. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slash top of loaf deeply with the sharpest knife you own. Bake until golden and hollow-sounding, about 25 minutes, misting loaf and oven with a spray bottle three times during the first 10 minutes of baking. If bread seems to be browning too rapidly, drop oven temperature to 400 degrees after misting phase. Remove loaf to cooling rack. Yields one long loaf.

Fresh, hot French bread ready to serve with butter, jam or jelly.
Photo by John Reedy

Spread some of Reedy’s Caramel Apple Butter on the French bread. See recipe in the November 2021 issue of Western Horseman.

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