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Classic French Bread

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Ingredients
  Water 2 1⁄2 Cup (40 tbs) (About 50° F)
  Unbleached all purpose flour 10 Ounce (2.5 Cup)
  Dry yeast 2 1⁄2 Teaspoon
  Unbleached all purpose flour 3 1⁄2 Cup (56 tbs)
  Salt 2 1⁄2 Teaspoon
  Cornmeal 2 Tablespoon
Directions

Combine water, 2 1/2 cups flour and yeast in processor and mix 30 seconds (or beat by hand 2 minutes).
Transfer to large bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 4 to 5 hours.
Lightly grease large bowl.
Add 3 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture, blending well.
Stir in enough additional flour to make soft, slightly sticky dough.
Knead until dough is very elastic, adding more flour as necessary, about 15 minutes.
Transfer to prepared bowl, turning to coat entire surface.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until 21/2 times original bulk, about 3 to 4 hours.
Press down on dough using palm of hand.
Cover dough and let rise again until 21/2 times original bulk, 21/2 to 3 hours.
Generously sprinkle flat baking sheet or peel with cornmeal.
Press dough down using palms of hands.
Turn out onto lightly floured surface.
Divide dough in half.
Pat each into oval.
Fold each in half lengthwise, pressing edges together.
Flatten slightly and fold lengthwise again.
Arrange seam side down on work surface.
Using sides of hands, stretch, smooth and shape dough into taut cylinder.
Starting at center of each cylinder, gently stretch until each loaf is about 13 inches long.
Arrange loaves on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 6 inches apart.
Sprinkle lightly with flour.
Cover loaves with towel and let rise at room temperature until more than doubled in volume, approximately 2 to 3 hours.
Arrange quarry tiles on center rack of oven and preheat to 450°F.
Place broiler pan on lowest rack.
Pour 1 cup water into broiler pan.
Generously sprinkle tiles with cornmeal.
Cut 4 horizontal slits in top of each loaf using razor or very sharp knife.
Slide loaves from baking sheet onto hot tiles.
Bake 15 minutes.
Remove broiler pan from oven.
Continue baking loaves until bottoms sound hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes.
Cool on rack at least 1 hour before slicing.

Recipe Summary

Cuisine: 
French
Course: 
Breakfast
Method: 
Baked
Dish: 
Bread
Restriction: 
Vegetarian

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