I love to treat guests to these golden brown, crusty loaves. Don't hesitate to try this recipe even if you are not an accomplished bread baker, there's no kneading required! —Christy Freeman, Central Point, Oregon
- 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1-1/2 cups warm water (110° to 115°), divided
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon shortening, melted
- 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. Add the sugar, salt, shortening, remaining water and 3-1/2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Do not knead. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled.
- Turn onto a floured surface. Divide in half; let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 10-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Roll up from a long side; pinch to seal. Place seam side down on greased baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle the tops with cornmeal. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- With a very sharp knife, make five diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf. Bake at 400° for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to wire rack to cool. Yield: 2 loaves (10 slices each).
Originally published as Crusty French Bread in Taste of Home February/March 1999, p31
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