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French Bread


French Bread

French Bread

Yield

Makes 4 loaves

Ingredients

2 packages active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2-1/2 cups warm water (105° to 115°F), divided
6-3/4 to 7-1/2 cups bread or all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
Water

Preparation

  1. Combine yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in large bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add 2 cups flour, remaining 2 cups warm water and salt. Beat with electric mixer at low speed until blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Stir in enough additional flour, about 4-3/4 cups, to make soft dough.
  2. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes adding enough of remaining flour to make a smooth and elastic dough. Shape dough into a ball; place in large greased bowl. Turn dough over so that top is greased. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Punch down dough. Knead dough in bowl 1 minute. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Grease 2 (2-loaf) French bread pans or 2 large baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal; set aside.
  4. Punch down dough. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface; knead several times to remove air bubbles. Cut dough into 4 pieces. Cover with towel; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each piece of dough back and forth, forming loaf about 14 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Place loaves 4 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Cut 3 (1/4-inch-deep) slashes into each loaf with sharp knife. Brush loaves with water. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place about 35 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  5. Place small baking pan on bottom of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place 2 ice cubes in pan on bottom of oven. Brush loaves with water; bake 10 minutes. Rotate pans top to bottom. Quickly spray loaves with cool water using spray mister. Reduce heat to 400°F; bake 10 to 15 minutes more or until loaves are golden brown. Immediately remove from pans; cool on wire racks. Serve warm.

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