Prize Winning French Bread
1 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c warm water
2 c hot water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
7 c flour
Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 c warm water; set aside till doubled.
Mix 2 c hot water, butter, sugar and salt. Cool to lukewarm; add yeast and beat in 2 c flour. Cover and let stand a few minutes. Add more flour till stiff dough forms. Knead, with flour, about 10 minutes--till smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise till doubled.
Cut dough in half and knead out air bubbles. Shape into 2 long loaves, tapering at the ends. Score the tops. Place on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Let rise till doubled.
Bake 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.
For crisp, golden brown crust brush with salt water before baking and twice while baking.
French bakers lift the dough and slam it on the board while kneading. Vigorous kneading makes the dough fine and regular.
One of my favorite things is to add garlic, herbs and cheese, and when the dough has been divided, cut one into 12 rolls and shape them into knots. 12 rolls bake for about 12-18 minutes ( or till golden brown).