I love a warm loaf of French bread to serve with our family dinner, but living in the country, I don’t have the convenience to grab a fresh loaf from the grocery store bakery often. I enjoy making my own, and it’s really quite easy. I like to double the recipe and make four loaves. We eat one fresh with breakfast, and I use the others at dinner, to make sandwiches for the kids’ lunches to take to school, and I also leave one loaf without seeds and herbs, and use it to make a delicious batch of French toast the next morning.
- 1 1/2 Tbs. instant yeast
- 1/2 c. very warm water
- 1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
- 2 c. water
- 1 1/2 Tbs. oil
- 2 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 c. flour
Combine the yeast, 1/2 c. warm water, and sugar, and let proof for 10 minutes. Then add remaining 2 c. water, oil, salt, and 3 c. of flour. Mix until flour is incorporated, then add remaining 3 c. flour gradually, until dough is soft and sticky, but pulls away from sides of bowl.
Knead about five minutes, turn out onto generously floured surface. Cover with a large dish towel, and every 10 minutes for the next hour, knead two or three times then recover.
Form dough into two long skinny loaves and place on a greased baking sheet. Brush with beaten egg white and seasonings and seeds, if desired. Slash three diagonal lines into tops. Cover and let rise until double or 30 minutes.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.