This is a little time consuming, but it is so much better than store bought french bread. I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks called, The Essential Mormon Cookbook by Julie Badger Jensen.
Yields: Two loaves of bread
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
Optional: Sesame seeds or poppy seeds
In a large bowl combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy.
Stir in salt, oil, and 3 cups of flour. Stir vigorously. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well.
Let stand 10 minutes. Stir down. Repeat this process 5 times, which will take one hour. Place dough onto a floured board. Knead only enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled; divide in half.
Roll into two rectangles about 9 by 12 inches long. Roll up from long side. Moisten seam with small amount of water and pinch to seal. Arrange both loaves lengthwise on a large, well greased cookie sheet. Place seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes.
Glaze with beaten egg (brush on gently). And, if using, sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Use a very sharp knife to gently make 3 diagnol gashes in the top of each loaf.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and cover with a towel (this keeps the crust soft). Serve warm.