All Easy Recipes. Cook all that you can cook. French Bread
What You Need:            (To Make: three 16-inch-long loaves)
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  • 2 cups lukewarm water (110 to 115)
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 7 to 8 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt plus teaspoon salt dissolved in cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened, or substitute 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • cup white or yellow cornmeal

  • How To Cook:
    1. Pour cup of the lukewarm water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar. Let the yeast and sugar rest for 2 or 3 minutes, then mix well. Set in a warm, draft-free place (such as an unlighted oven) for about 10 minutes or until the yeast bubbles up and the mixture almost doubles in volume.

    2. Place 7 cups of the flour and 1 tablespoon of salt in a deep mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture and the remaining 2 cups of lukewarm water into the well and, with a large wooden spoon, gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the water. Then stir with the spoon until the dough can be gathered into a medium-firm ball.

    3. Place the ball on a lightly floured surface and knead, pushing the dough down with the heels of your hands, pressing it forward and folding it back on itself. As you knead, incorporate up to 1 cup more flour, adding it by the tablespoonful and using only enough to make non-sticky dough. Continue to knead for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

    4. With a pastry brush, spread the softened butter or vegetable oil over the inside of a large bowl. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it about in the grease to coat the entire surface. Drape the bowl with a kitchen towel and set it aside in the draft-free place for approximately 1 hours, or until the dough doubles in volume.

    5. Scatter the cornmeal on a large baking sheet and set the sheet aside. Then punch the dough down with a blow of your fist and divide it into three equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll and shape each portion into a slightly tapered loaf about 2 inches in diameter and 15 inches long. Place the loaves 2 inches apart on the cornmeal-coated baking sheet.

    6. With a very sharp knife make six diagonal slashes, each about 2 inches long and inch deep, at 1-inch intervals in the center part of the top of each loaf. Brush the three loaves with 2 tablespoons of the salt-and-water solution and set them aside in the warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes longer or until they double in volume.

    7. Preheat the oven to 400 and place a large shallow pan half filled with boiling water on the oven floor or, if your oven is electric, directly on the bottom heating unit. Bake the bread on the lowest shelf of the oven for 15 minutes.

    8. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350, brush the loaves with the salt-and-water solution and bake for 10 minutes. Brush again with the salt water and continue to bake the bread for about 20 minutes longer, or until the loaves are crisp and golden. Remove from the baking sheet and let the loaves cool on a wire rack before serving.

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