I found the French bread recipe in Suite101.com and basically, it's simple, it's easy and you only need 5 ingredients. The only hard part (if you want to call it hard) is the waiting and the kneading. This recipe is for 2 large loaves, but I made three medium loaves instead. This recipe makes a lot of bread, so just be warned. Next time, I may just make a lot of demi breads and give out as gifts.
INGREDIENTS (makes 2 large loaves)
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 2-1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt + more for sprinkling
Make sure water temperature is 110 to 115 degrees F. Place water in a large bowl and sprinkle with yeast and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes until yeast dissolves and starts to bubble. Stir in 2 cups flour and salt. Cover and let rise for 1/2 hour.
Then gradually stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. (Knead by pressing on the dough, then folding over and pressing with the heel of your hand.) Then clean the large mixing bowl, spray with oil (I used olive oil), and place the dough in the bowl. Turn it in the bowl so the dough is greased (this prevents the top from cracking as it rises).
Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2-1/2 hours, until doubled in bulk. With your fist, punch down the dough. Divide in half and place one half on a lightly floured surface.
Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a 12x6" rectangle. Starting with the 12" side, roll up tightly. Seal seams and edges by pinching. Repeat with remaining dough.
Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves on prepared sheet. Cover and let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray the loaves with a bit of water, then using a blade, made a few slashes across the top of each loaf. Sprinkle a little bit of salt over each loaf. Bake at 425 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until loaves are golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on wire rack.