Your Own Crusty French Bread

Recipe by CindiJ
READY IN: 2hrs 45mins
YIELD: 3 loaves




  • Dissolve yeast in very warm water.
  • Stir well.
  • Let proof for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in 2 cups of the flour, sugar and salt until mixture is smooth; gradually beat in enough of the remaining 5 cups flour to make stiff dough.
  • (Kitchen Aid is perfect for this).
  • Turn out onto lightly floured pastry cloth or board and knead 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding only enough more flour to keep dough from sticking.
  • Return to bowl; brush top with soft shortening or oil and cover with clean towel or plastic wrap.
  • Let rise till double in bulk in warm place away drafts (approximately 45-60 minutes).
  • Punch dough down; cover; let rise again for 30 minutes (again in warm place away from drafts) or until double in bulk.
  • While dough rises, make boat shaped baking pans as follows:
  • Tear off 3 twenty-inch-long sheets of heavy aluminum foil.
  • Fold in sides of foil approximately 1"-1 1/2" on all 4 sides to form baking pan, this will allow the bread to rise up and not spread out into a flat shaped loaf by folding the short ends together to seal, pressing thumb inside to round slightly (shape into boat)with shortest ends slightly rounded.
  • Spray with PAM and sprinkle lightly with corn meal.
  • Punch dough down, knead 1 minute on lightly floured pastry cloth or board.
  • Divide dough into thirds.
  • Roll out with the palm of your hands to a rope approximately 18 inches long; place in prepared foil pan.
  • Repeat with remaining two-thirds dough.
  • Make 3-4 evenly spaced shallow cuts diagonally in the top of each loaf; brush with warm water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Cover with clean towel and let rise in warm place away from drafts till double in bulk (approx. 30 min).
  • Preheat oven to 450º.
  • Place dish (I use an old aluminum pie plate) on lower shelf of oven and fill half way with hot tap water.
  • Slide loaves on shelf above water.
  • Bake for 15 minutes in 450º oven; reduce heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes longer.
  • Bread is done when tapped and gives a hollow sound.
  • Remove immediately from pans and let cool on cooling racks.
  • Slice bread- spread each side with garlic butter- reassemble bread loaf and return to foil pans.
  • Unfold edges to cover and warm in low oven (325º) till butter melts into bread.
  • Serve warm.