This isn’t the most traditional French bread recipe but it comes together with such minimal effort for the pay off. This is some of the best bread I’ve had in a very long time. I know that baking with yeast can be intimating but with this much yumminess waiting on the other side, it’s worth giving it a shot.
1 1/2 hot tap water (about 110F)
1 packet or 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for your work surface
In the bottom of your stand mixer, stir together the sugar and warm water until the sugar is dissolved and then stir in the active dry yeast. Let proof for about 5 minutes until sort of frothy and smells very strongly of yeast.
Whisk together the salt and flour. Add to proofed yeast mixture. Using the dough hook, mix on #2 for 6 to 7 minutes. The dough should be incredibly sticky at this point. Transfer to an oiled bowl and let rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.
At this point, turn out onto an floured surface and divide into three pieces. Roll out each piece to about 12 inches in length and place on a floured piece of parchment on your baking sheet. Let rise for another hour, volume should increase by about half.
Preheat oven to 475 with a dutch oven or another oven safe pan on the bottom rack. Add the baking sheet to the top rack and then pour a cup of water into the preheated dutch oven and close the oven door as quickly as possible. This steam helps give the bread a crispy crust. Check after 20 minutes, it should sound hollow when rapped with a wooden spoon or a knuckle. Sometimes mine need an additional 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack, if you can make it that long.