Home-Style French Bread
* This bread takes a while to be ready to bake – estimate making it about 3.5 hrs before dinner time. I make this with the Spaghetti Bolognese so I start the sauce early in the day to let it cook a LONG time and then get the bread going at the same time.
- 2 envelopes (1/4 oz each) active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. sugar
- 2 Cups warm water (about 110°F)
- 5 Cups flour
- 4 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp. water
* I usually half the recipe because I’d eat both loaves if they were in front of me!
- Combine yeast, salt, sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl. Whisk witha fork until the yeast is dissolved. Mix in the flour, 1/2 Cup at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. (you can do this with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour all at once with the mixer on low and beat until combined, then put the mixer on high and mix until the dough climbs up the hook – about 3 minutes)
- Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Turn the dough to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and put in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise until it doubles in size – about 1.5hrs.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and invert it onto a heavily floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each portion into large rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick. Roll up the dough, beginning with the short side and stopping after each full turn to press the edge of the roll firmly into the flat sheet of dough to seal. Press with your fingertips. Tuck and roll so that any seams disappear into the dough.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet evenly with 2 Tbsp. of the cornmeal. Place the loaves on the baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. cornmeal. Cover the loaves with a cloth and let ride until doubled in size – about 1 hr.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F
- With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes, about 1 inches apart, on the top of each loaf. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash evenly over each loaf. Place a cup of hot water in an ovenproof container on the baking sheet with the loaves. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
- Slice to serve. The bread is also great reheated. Place, uncovered, in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, or until heated through.