French Bread (a la Kitchen Aid)
2 packages of active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp)
2 1/2 cups of warm water (I tend towards the 105 degrees side but they say 105-115 is good)
1 tbsp butter or margarine, melted (I only use butter when I bake)
7 cups of A.P. (all purpose) flour. Yes. 7.
2 tsp cornmeal
1 tbsp water
Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add salt, butter and flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 (low/knead) and mix about 1 minute or until well blended. Knead on speed 2 about 2 minutes longer. Dough will be sticky. (I never REALLY time it – I have a tendency to wait until the kneaded bread cleans the side of the bowl and then it’s “done” to me…it takes about 2-2 1/2 minutes.)
Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Punch dough down and divide in half. Roll each half into 12″x 15″ rectangle. Roll dough tightly from longest side, tapering ends if desired. Place loaves on greased baking sheets that have been dusted wtih cornmeal. Cover. Let rise in warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
With a sharp knive, make 4 diagonal cuts on top of each loaf. Bake at 450 degrees (F) for 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Beat egg white and water together with a fork. Brush each loaf with egg mixture. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes longer. Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire rack.
Editorial note: again, I skip all the “prettying up” with the egg wash, etc. I go with rustic. I’ve never had this recipe do anything but rock.