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French Bread

Yield 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cornmeal

How to Make It

  1. Combine yeast, water, and sugar in a large mixing bowl, stirring until yeast and sugar dissolve. Let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Stir in shortening and salt. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring to form a stiff dough.

  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface; knead 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead 10 minutes.

  3. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a long, thin loaf. Place loaves in well-greased baguette pans that have been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cut 3 or 4 diagonal slashes, 3/4-inch deep, in top of each loaf. Brush loaves with water. Leave uncovered, and repeat rising procedure, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Brush risen loaves with water.

  4. Place a shallow pan of water on bottom oven rack. Bake loaves at 400° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375°; continue baking 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove bread from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.

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