French bread i

Yield: 12 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 Envelope dry yeast
3 cups Warm water (105 F to 115 F)
8 cups (about) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Salt
Cornmeal
1 Egg white beaten with 1 Tbs water (glaze)

Soak a brick in water overnight, then drain it and put it in the oven with the bread to create steam. This gives the loaves a firm crust.

Makes 12 small loaves

Soak brick in water overnight.

Sprinkle yeast onto ¼ cup warm water in bowl of electric meixer fitted with a dough hook; stir to dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes.

Add remaining water, 4 cups flour and salt and beat until smooth.

Beat in remaining flour ½ cup at a time until slightly sticky dough forms. Mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and no longer sticky, adding more flour if necessary, about 3 minutes. (Dough can also be mixed and kneaded by hand.) Grease large bowl and add dough, turning to coat surface. Cover with damp towel. Let rise at room temperature 8 hours.

Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 2 minutes. Return to greased bowl, turning to coat entire surface. Cover with damp towel and let rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

Grease baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Punchy dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide into 12 pieces. Pat each into 4x7-inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion, starting at one long side. Pinch seams to seal.

Arrange seam side down on prepared sheets, spacing 3 inches apart.

Let rise until almost doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 F. Remove brick from water and place in oven.

Make 3 diagonal slashes in loaves. Brush with egg glaze. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven to 350 F and continue baking until loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Cool on racks before serving.

Bon Appetite

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