Traditional Crusty French Bread
|Dry yeast||1⁄2 Ounce (2 Envelopes)|
|Warm water||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs) (105Â°F To 115Â°F)|
|Unbleached all purpose flour||7 Cup (112 tbs)|
|Warm water||2 1⁄4 Cup (36 tbs) (105Â°F To 115Â°F)|
|Flour||1 Cup (16 tbs)|
Generously grease large bowl.
Lightly oil 6 baguette bread pans or 3 French bread pans.
Sprinkle yeast over 1/2 cup warm water and stir until dissolved.
Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
Combine 5 cups flour and 2 1/4 cups warm water in another large mixing bowl.
Add yeast and remaining 2 cups flour.
Stir in 4 teaspoons salt.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary to prevent sticking, 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer dough to greased bowl, turning to coat all surfaces.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch dough down.
Transfer to work surface and knead gently 1 to 2 minutes.
Return to greased bowl, turning to coat all surfaces.
Let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled, 3 hours.
Turn dough out onto work surface.
Divide into 6 or 3 equal pieces.
Flatten 1 piece into rectangle.
Fold long edge over 1/3; fold over remaining long edge as for business letter to form narrow rectangle.
Pinch edges together to seal.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Roll each rectangle into 18-inch cylinder using rocking motion.
Transfer to prepared pans.
Cover dough and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Arrange shallow roasting pan in lower rack of oven and fill halfway with water.
Holding tip of sharp knife on the bias, make 3 diagonal slashes across top of each baguette or loaf.
Transfer bread to oven and spray generously with water.
Spray 2 more times at 3-minute intervals to steam.
Bake baguettes until crust is brown, about 30 minutes.
(Bake loaves 5 to 10 minutes longer.) Remove bread from oven and brush surface with ice water.
Turn out onto wire racks and let cool before slicing.