French Bread


1 pkg dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3½ cups unbleached white flour
1-1/8 cups warm water (110° to 115°J)
½ tbsp salt
additional flour for kneading


Stir yeast into warm water and let stand for 10 minutes.
Combine 2 cups flour with the other warm water in a large mixing bowl; mix well and add yeast and remaining flour and salt; beat till well mixed.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead till dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary to keep from sticking to surface (takes about 10 minutes).
Put dough into an oiled bowl and turn once to coat surface; cover and let rise till doubled in bulk (about 1½ hours).
Punch dough down and turn out and knead for 2 more minutes; return to bowl, cover and let rise one more time till doubled (about 2½ hours).
Turn out dough again and shape into 3 to 6 rectangles; flatten and fold like envelopes (all corners meeting in the center), then seal eges to prevent air pockets.
Roll to fit bread pans and place in buttered bread pans.
Cover lightly and let rise till doubled (about 1 hour).
In preheated oven place a shallow pan containing 1″ of hot water on the rack below where the bread will be baking.
With a sharp knife shlash the top of the loaves 3 or 4 times on the diagonal, then brush with water.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
After removing from oven, brush loaves with ice water, then turn out on wire racks to cool.