Tuesday, December 30, 2014
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast (a package is 2 1/4 tsp)
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups warm water (120 to 130 degrees F)
1 slightly beaten egg white
1 Tablespoon water
In a large mixing bowl stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast and the salt. Add the warm water to the dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much as the remaining flour as you can.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough taht is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes) Shape the dough into a ball. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl turning once to grease surface of the cough. cover and let rise in a warm place till double in size (about 1 hr.)
Punch dough down. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half . Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
Roll each portion of the dough into a 15x10 rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting from a long side; seal well. Pinch ends and pull slightly to taper. Place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. In a small mixing bowl stir together egg white and water. Brush some the egg white mixture over loaves. Cover and let rise till nearly double in size (for 35 to 45 minutes). Using a sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across the top of each loaf.
Bake in a 375F oven for 20 minutes. In the first 10 minutes you can use a spray bottle and spray dough with water. This is important for the french bread's crust texture to come out right. Continue baking for 15-20 minutes more or till bread sounds hollow when you tap the top with your fingers. Immediately remove bread from baking sheet. Cool on wire racks. Make 2 loaves.