This recipe makes a rather good French loaf. Since it uses "rapid rise" yeast, it is quicker to make because it only needs 1 rise instead of 2. Prep time includes 40 minute rising time.
- Set aside 1 cup of flour.
- In a large bowl, mix remaining flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
- Stir hot water into dry mixture.
- Mix in enough reserved flour to make a soft dough.
- On lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes).
- Cover dough and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide dough in half.
- Roll half of dough into a 10x15 inch rectangle.
- Roll dough tightly (like a jelly roll), starting from the long side, and tapering the ends.
- Pinch ends and seam to seal.
- Place dough seam side down on greased baking sheet which has been sprinkled with cornmeal.
- Repeat with remaining half of dough.
- Cover dough and let rise in a warm draft-free place until doubled in size (about 35-40 minutes).
- With a sharp knife or razor blade, make 4 diagonal cuts on the top of each loaf.
- Combine egg white and 1 Tablespoon water, brush on loaves.
- Bake in preheated 425°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until done.
- Remove from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.
- Note: If you want to make baguettes instead of loaves, you can roll the dough into a rope (by hand) to get the longer thinner shape.