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Delicious and warm, crusty and suprisingly easy -- this recipe will quickly become a staple around your kitchen. This French Bread recipe can be converted into Garlic Bread to accompany any Italian dish, sliced up for an A.M. treat of French Toast, or just enjoyed with your favorite soup or bisque.
- Into a large warm mixing bowl, pour warm water, then stir in sugar, salt, oil, and half of the flour and yeast.
- Beat vigorously for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Stir in remaining flour until all dry ingredients are completely mixed inches.
- Let your dough mixer or machine kneed the dough for a further 8 minutes to really get the gluten working in the flour to create a softer bread.
- Once the mixing is done, transfer dough to a greased bowl and cover with a dough towel or plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. (Time this.)
- At the end of the 20 minutes, punch the dough down; two punches should do it.
- Then set the time again for 10 minutes; at the end of the 10 minutes, punch the dough down again.
- Repeat the ten minute intervals five times.
- After the 5th time of punching down the dough, turn the dough onto a floured board; knead only enough to coat dough with enough flour so that it can be handled.
- Divide the dough into 2 parts.
- Roll each part of dough into a rectangle about 4 x 12 inches and roll up like a jelly roll, rolling from the long side.
- Pinch end to seal.
- Arrange on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam spray and sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Allow the two loaves to rise for a further 30 minutes.
- With a very sharp knife, cut 4 gashes at an angle on top, then brush with beaten whole egg.
- If desired, sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.
- Bake immediately at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until light to medium brown.
- Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool.