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French Bread

Recipe by: Chef John V., A Good Cooking Recipe!
Serving size: 4 loaves
Preparation time: about 2 hours 30 minutes


1 tablespoon honey or sugar
3 tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoons salt
2 1/4 cups warm water110F
6 1/2 cups flour (use bread flour if you can find it)
3 cups boiling water (for oven steaming in baking pan, see below.)


Add the honey and yeast to warm water, mix well and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a mixer and dough hook or knead by hand for ten minutes. Place the dough in a clean bowl; lightly oil the top. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk (1 to 2 hours). Punch dough with fist and proof once more. Knock dough down again and place on a floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 portions and shape into French-style loaves. Place on a flat baking pan or in a special French bread loaf pan. Preheat oven to 425 F, let loaves rise for 40 minutes.

Pour 3 cups boiling water into a roasting pan and carefully place on the oven bottom. Brush the loaves with cold water, slash diagonally 3 times or snip with scissors. Place the dough in the oven on a rack above the pan of water and bake for twenty minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.

Note: This dough is meant to be on the sticky side, so use extra flour when handling it. When using the recipe for bread, rolls or focaccia be sure to give it a full 40 minutes of proofing, just before baking, after it is formed into the desired shape. This recipe can also be used for pizza, calzone, focaccia and rolls.