San francisco-style french bread

Yield: 4 Servings

Measure Ingredient
1½ cup Warm water
1 pack Active dry yeast
1 cup Sourdough starter
2 teaspoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
5 cups All-purpose flour (or 6)
Water for tops of loaves

Warm a large bowl. Pour 1½ cups warm water into warmed bowl.

Sprinkle yeast over water. Set aside to soften 5 minutes. Stir in sourdough starter, sugar and salt. Beat in 3 cups flour until blended. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place free from drafts.

Let rise 1 ½ to 2 hours or until doubled in size. Lightly grease a large baking sheet; set aside. Stir down dough. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a medium stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough 8 to 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Add more flour if necessary. Shape kneaded dough into two 10x3 ½" loaves. Pull out ends of each to make them narrower than center of loaf. Or shape into 2 round loaves. Place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and set in a warm place free from drafts. Let rise 1 to 2 hours or until almost doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 400F. Pour water 1" deep into a 12x 71/2" baking pan. Place in bottom of preheating oven. Use a pastry brush to brush tops of loaves with water. Use a very sharp knife to cut diagonal slashes across tops of loaves. Bake in preheated oven 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and loaves sound hollow when tapped with your fingers. After 30 minutes, if loaves are golden brown, cover with a tent of foil to prevent further browning. Remove from baking sheet. Cool on a rack. Makes 2 loaves.

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