Preparation / Directions:
Dissolve the yeast in the water. Sift the dry ingredients, stir them into the yeast mixture, and work the dough with your hands until it will absorb no more flour. Knead the dough on a slightly floured board until it is no longer sticky. Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Then punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Divide into 2 parts. Shape each piece into a long, narrow loaf. Place the loaves on a greased cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal, cover, and let rise again (until doubled in size). Brush tops with egg-white glaze (1 egg white slightly beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water) and bake in a 400 degree over for 35 to 40 minutes. Brush again with glaze about 5 minutes before loaves are done. Makes 2 small loaves or 1 large one.
[Optional: for those with HOT ovens: bake bread at 400F for first 15 minutes then reduce temperature to 350F for next 20-25 minutes.]
DAK and WELBILT Breadmaker owners/users: Put 2 cups of flour in breadmaker, add 1 Tablespoon of fast rising yeast, add another 2 cups of flour, the sugar, salt and increase the warm water to 1-3/4 Cups and add to the breadmaker and select French Bread - Manual. Push Start. Let dough be kneaded by breadmaker and leave it in the breadmaker for the first rising (1 hour) - just when the breadmaker begins to knead the bread again, take it out and punch it down onto a lightly floured board. Follow recipe above from "divide into 2 parts" etc.
(Yes, I know the breadmaker says only 3.5 cups of flour but if you increase the warm water to 1-3/4 cups it can handle the kneading and it does a great job!)
ONION FRENCH BREAD. Add 1 package onion-soup mix to the dry ingredients and blend thoroughly. If you like an onion flavor in bread, you may occasionally add a package of onion soup mix to any plain bread dough with delightful results.
Adapted from "A World of Breads"
This is about as authentic a French bread as you can make in a home oven. To make real French bread, you need unbleached, hard-wheat flour (available in health food stores), and an oven with the heat coming from top, bottom and both sides. If you place a pan of boiling water on the oven floor, and sprinkle the cookie sheets with cornmeal after buttering them, you can approximate the commercial product.
N.B.: To me, this is the ** secret ** the 1/2 inch of boiling water which I place in a glass pyrex (12 inch pie plate) and put in the bottom of the oven SEEMS to do the trick when it comes to a crusty outside (but not too thick) on French Bread; be sure to bake your bread on the lowest oven rack.