Hearty French Bread
  • 2½ cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 cups white bread flour (regular is okay, too)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal
  1. In a large mixirollng bowl, stir sugar into warm water and then stir in the yeast. Let sit until bubbly (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add whole wheat flour, 4 cups of white flour and the salt. Beat with electric mixer, using paddles, for 5 minutes.
  3. If you prefer to knead by hand, put the remaining cup of flour on the board and knead for 7-8 minutes. If you have a sturdy stand mixer and prefer to let the machine do the hard work, switch to your dough hook, add the remaining cup of flour, and let it knead for 5 minutes. Your finished dough should be smooth and elastic. If it isn't coming cleanly away from the side of the bowl, add a little more flour.
  4. Place the dough into a large greased bowl. Turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled. Depending on room temperature, this could take anywhere from 1-3 hours. (A slow rise makes more flavorful bread, so don't rush it!)
  5. Punch down the dough, turn it over, and let it rise again until doubled, about 1½ hours.
  6. Punch down the dough and divide into two pieces.
  7. Sprinkle cornmeal generously on a large baking sheet.
  8. Shape each piece into a long slender loaf, and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover lightly with a clean dishtowel and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
  9. While the loaves are rising, place a large pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven, and preheat to 425 F.
  10. When the loaves have risen, dust them with flour and, with a very sharp knife or razor blade, cut ¼" deep diagonal slashes along the top of the loaves.
  11. Carefully (it will be HOT) open the oven door and quickly put the loaves in, trying to let as little steam escape as possible.
  12. Bake until rich brown, about 35 minutes, and cool on a rack. Listen to them crackle!
Recipe by The Rowdy Baker at http://www.therowdybaker.com/?p=2035