the abbreviated version...
1 1/2 pkg (1 1/2 T) active dry yeast
1 T sugar
2 C warm water (105-115F)
3 C unbleached bread flour
1 T salt
3 C unbleached all-purpose flour
Cornmeal for dusting
Egg glaze (see below)
1. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water in large bowl. Stir til combined. Let stand til dissolved and foamy, about 10 min.
2. Add 2 cups bread flour and salt. Beat hard with whisk for 3 minutes (until smooth). Add remaining flours (both types) 1/2 cup at a time with wooden spoon. The dough will form shaggy mass and clear sides of bowl.
3. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead, adding flour 1T at a time if necessary, until dough becomes soft, silky and resilient - about 5 min. It will not be sticky.
4. Place dough in greased bowl and turn to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in cool area until 3x bulk - about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. May also be risen in fridge overnight.
5. Gently deflate, turn out on floured surface, and divide into portions (see below). Knead in more flour if necessary. Place 4 inches apart on greased, or parchment-covered baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal.
6. Quick method: Right after forming loaves, slash tops diagonally and brush with glaze.
Place in cold oven on middle or lower rack. Turn oven to 400F for 35-40 min, or until crusty.
7. Standard method: Loosely cover loaves with plastic wrap and raise until puffy and doubled (about 30-40 min). Preheat baking stone at 450F for at least 20 min if desired. Reduce heat to 400F to bake, or preheat to 400F if not using a stone. Slash tops of loaves diagonally and brush with glaze. Place on baking stone, or put baking sheet with dough in oven. Spray a mist of water into oven or throw a few ice cubes onto oven floor to crisp crust if desired. Bake until crusty (see below).
Yields and baking times for one recipe of French bread:
6 ficelles - 20 minutes
4 baguettes - 25-30 min
1 pain de campagne - 45-50 min
6 champignons - 20-25 min
4 batards - 35-40 min
4 l'epis - 30-35 min
4 petits pains - 15-20 min
4 boules - 25-30 min
If you want to make this with the food processor (SUPER EASY!):
1. With either metal slicing or plastic blade in food processor, add: 1 C warm water (105-115F), 1 1/2 pkgs (1 1/2 T) active dry yeast, 1 T sugar
2. Let stand 10 min
3. Add 1 C cold water (processor will heat up dough)
4. Add 1 T salt and 2 C flour. Process 15 seconds
4. Add the remaining 4 cups flour and process just to form a ball of dough. Test dough and add more flour or water if necessary (the dough should mostly pull itself clean from the insides of the bowl). Process 60 seconds. Remove dough from work bowl and knead by hand just to form a smooth ball - about 10 times. Proceed as basic recipe.
Egg glaze: Whisk together the following...
1 egg white
1 T water