French Bread

Gold Medal Classic French Bread, adapted from bettycrocker.com

3 to 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 T sugar

1 t salt

1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (2 1/4 t)

1 c very warm water (120ºF to 130ºF)

2 T vegetable oil

1 egg white

1 T cold water

In large bowl, mix 2 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast. Add warm water and oil. Beat with electric mixer (or in Kitchenaid mixer) on low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Beat on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl frequently. Stir in enough remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to make dough easy to handle (dough will be soft).

On lightly floured surface, knead dough about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Grease large bowl with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease large cookie sheet with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Gently push fist into dough to deflate; divide in half. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into 15 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll dough up tightly, beginning at 15-inch side, to form a loaf. Pinch edge of dough into roll to seal. Roll gently back and forth to taper ends. Place both loaves on cookie sheet.

Cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes across tops of loaves at 2-inch intervals with sharp knife. Brush loaves with cold water. Let rise uncovered in warm place about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, mix egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water; brush over loaves. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.

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