Due to the simple ingredients involved, this bread is perfect for preparing in the bread machine. Now I know what you are thinking, "How do you make a pretty loaf of French bread in a bread machine?" The answer is simple, I use the dough cycle. I let the machine do all the mixing, kneading and rising, then I come in and shape the dough, let it rise one more time, and bake until golden brown and delicious, and take all the credit for slaving away in a hot kitchen. In fact, my bread maker even has a delay setting, allowing me load the ingredients into the appliance before I leave for work, then arrive home just in time to shape the loaves and put together the rest of dinner (this only works because there are no ingredients that have to be kept refrigerated, do NOT try this with breads that use dairy). I end up with all the flavor and texture of fresh bread with only a few minutes of hands-on time.
For those of you without a bread machine, don't worry. Using the same ingredients, you can make this bread as well. Just mix all the ingredients in a bowl, knead, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm place. After that, the steps are the same for either method.
And don't worry about eating it all today. Any leftovers are perfect for making French toast tomorrow morning.
1-1/4 cups water (about 85 to 90 degrees F)
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
3-3/4 cups bread flour
1/2 Tbsp dry yeast
1 egg white, beaten with 1 Tbsp water
Cornmeal, if desired
Non-stick cooking spray
Alternatively, dissolve yeast in water and let set for 10 minutes. Mix flour, salt and sugar. Add water and stir to combine. On floured surface, knead dough for 6-8 minutes. Cover and let rise for one and a half hours, or until double in size.