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French Bread

  Yield/Servings: 2 loaves  
2 1/4 cup warm water
1 package yeast
2 tsp. salt
2 tbs. granulated sugar
6-6 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1. Pour 1/4 water into bowl; add yeast and stir until dissolved. Stir in 2 cups water, then add salt, and sugar; stir until well blended.

2. Stir in 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time. Add 4th cup of flour, and beat until dough is smooth and elastic. Mix 5th cup of flour in to make a stiff dough.

3. Measure 6th cup of flour, sprinkle about half of it on board. Turn out dough onto heavily floured area of board. Keep a coating of flour on the dough as you begin to knead.

4. With floured hands, fold dough toward you with fingers; push firmly away with heel of your hand. Add more flour to board as it's kneaded in - until dough no longer sticks.

5. Kneading is finished when non-sticky dough is smooth and satiny. Put dough in greased bowl, grease top lightly. Cover bowl and set in warm place (about 80 degree) to rise.

6. Let dough rise until doubled (about 1 1/2 hours at 80 degree). Test by inserting two fingers about 1/2 inch into risen dough - if indentations remain, the dough is ready to shape.

7. Punch dough down; squeeze out air bubbles with your hands; shape into a smooth ball. Grasp in center of ball and squeeze dough to divide into equal portions for the two loaves.

8. Shape into two oblong loaves; let rise on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with water and make diagonal slashes in top with sharp knife before baking. Place in a hot oven 400 degree - with shallow pan of hot water in oven bottom - until crusty and brown; about 45 minutes.
Submitted by: Creative Cooking USA

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