|Warm water||1 1⁄4 Cup (20 tbs)|
|Dry yeast||1⁄4 Ounce|
|Soft shortening||3 Tablespoon|
|All purpose flour||3 1⁄2 Cup (56 tbs)|
|Corn meal||2 Tablespoon|
|Cold water||2 Tablespoon|
Combine warm water and sugar in mixing bowl and stir to dissolve sugar.
Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand 10 minutes.
Add salt, shortening and about half of the flour.
Beat well with a wooden spoon.
Add remaining flour and mix with hand until dough is easy to handle (add a little more flour if necessary).
Turn out on floured board and knead until dough is very smooth and elastic and small bubbles appear under the surface.
Round up in greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down and let rise again until nearly double, about 30 minutes.
Punch dough down again and turn out on floured board or pastry cloth.
Roll into an oblong 15 X 10 inches (if dough is so elastic it resists rolling let it rest about 15 minutes, then roll).
Roll dough up tightly from one of wide sides, sealing firmly by pressing with the heel of the hand along the full length of the loaf at each full turn.
Put a hand on either end of the roll and roll it gently back and forth under the hands to lengthen the roll and taper the ends.
Seal ends by pressing firmly against the board with side of hand and tucking under.
Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal.
Put loaf on sheet (diagonally if it is a small sheet), sealed edge down.
Make slashes in top of loaf with a sharp knife.
Have slashes 2 inches apart and about 1 inch deep.
Brush top of loaf with cold water and let stand in a warm place until very-light, about 1 1/2 hours.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Brush loaf with cold water again and bake 20 minutes.
Beat egg white and 2 tbsp. cold water together.
Remove loaf from oven and brush top with egg white mixture.
Return to oven and bake about 25 minutes more or until loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped lightly.
Note: Whether you make your own French bread or use a loaf from the bakery, an interesting way to serve it is as follows.
Brown 1 tbsp. butter in a heavy skillet, add 1/2 cup sesame seeds and heat, stirring until golden.
Blend with 1/2 cup soft butter and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and spread between thick slices of bread.
Wrap in heavy foil and heat in hot oven about 15 minutes.