I decided recently that I would learn how to make French Bread. This can be a lift-long learning challenge and I knew that from the get-go. What I didn't know is that after only 4 batches I've really started to enjoy the process and the results.
It started with a little online research and reading from a few books on bread. Since I didn't want to invest in anything here is my recipe and directions with ingredient and tools in your home.
1 ½ Tb. Dry yeast
1 Tb. Sugar
2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees F)
5-6 c. unbleached flour
1 Tb salt or more (I like more, up to 2 Tb. but usually 1 1/2 Tb.)
Cornmeal for sprinkling (or parchment paper, not wax paper)
1 egg white
splash of water
1 t. salt
1. Create a sponge or pre-ferment with 1 c. water, 1 c. flour, yeast, and sugar. Combine well and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. In a heavy duty mixer combine 4 c. flour, salt and sponge. Using a dough hook, mix and kneed for about 5 min. Adjust water and flour to create soft, silky, and resilient dough.
3. Turn onto lightly floured surface and kneed a few more times to create a nice ball. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for about 2 hours.
4. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and kneed a few more times (about 10-20 turns). Divide into portions for separate loaves. Let rest for a few minutes.
5. Shape into loaves. And place on a pan that was dusted with corn meal.
6. Score top, brush with Egg Wash.
7. Bake for 20-40 minutes at 400. Place a small heat proof baking dish with at least 1 inch of water in the oven on the rack below the bread.
Here is a helpful link: The Fresh Loaf
Good visual and pictures here: Artisan Bread Making