French bread is one of the easiest to make..simple ingredients and the finished product makes you feel like a million
In a large bowl dissolve 2 packs of yeast in lukewarm water, you will be using about 6-1/2 cups of flour and 2 tea. salt using a mixer or stand mixer beat in the salt and 4 cups of flour 1 cup at a time..Beat til smooth. Continue beating another 10 min., and it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Beat in another 2-2-1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 c at a time, until until dough begins to clean the sides of your bowl..At this point I dump the dough onto a cutting board that I've floured and begin to knead it, now you mix in the rest of the flour a little at a time til the dough gets smooth and satiny, about 10 min.Dough is ready when you slap it and hold you hand there for about 10 seconds and the dough barley sticks to your hand.
Place you dough in a well greased bowl turning to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap, spraying it with pam and placing pam side down, so dough won't stick as it rises. Let rise until double about 2-3 hours.
Don't try to hurry the rising process, it will only make this dough sticky and hard to handle...Just leave at room temp...Go do something else til it's time to shape..Then punch the dough down and put on floured board..cut into three pieces and shape your loaves..This makes 3 loaves..I've made the long loaf and with one of the pieces make a round loave..These freeze well if double wrapped after cooling.
Now you have a pre heated oven of 450
shape your loaves and put on baking trays cover with pam sprayed plastic wrap and let rise again for 1-2 hours..When ready to bake, take a razor blade or serrated knife and make 3 slashes on each loaf..put in oven and then take a spray bottle and spritz in the oven to create steam..Do this again after 10 min.two more times, it helps make a crispy crust..Then lower the oven temp to 425 and bake 15-20 min..you know you oven so keep an eye on the bread..Turn off you oven open door for 3 min. Then close the door and let the bread sit in there about 15 min...I know by this time your drooling all over..Now transfer it to a rack to cool..at this point I've been known to sneak a piece when no-one was looking.
good luck and enjoy making your bread...Hope this helps you a little.