Here is the recipe-it was a reprint from a Jan/Feb 1996 issue of a Cook's magazine column by Jane and Michael Stern. Darn it--now I am going to have to hunt down a back issue of that magazine! However, here is the recipe. Try it, I promise it's slightly sourdough tang will hook you on the first bite that you take . As for me, I'm making more this weekend, I want to teach the kids how to bake a good loaf of bread and this one fits the bill. Do remember to mist the oven--it does make a difference in the crust. This crust is simply divine!!
1 pkg yeast ( I used 1Tblsp. bulk yeast)
2 Tblsp. sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (110-112 degrees)
4 to 4 1/2 cups flour (I used bread flour)
2 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in 2/3 cup warm water. when foamy, whisk in 1 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 4 hours in a warm place. (I let mine sit for about 6 since I had errands to run)
Stir in the remaining 2/3 cup water. Combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt and beat into the yeast mixture. Add veggie oil and beat until dough just holds together. (I let the dough hook on my KitchenAide mixer do the job for about 5 minutes). Turn the dough onto a floured surface and let rest while you clean and oil the bowl.
Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, 5-6 minutes, adding only enough flour to make the dough workable and soft. (again, I let my dough hook do that job..I love my KitchenAide!), Return the dough to the oiled bowl and turn the dough once to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours. (I started this whole process late at night, so I covered the dough and sat it in the fridge overnight to slow rise. In the morning I set the covered bowl on the counter to come to room temp and rise more--it does add a lot to the flavor)
Lightly oil a french bread pan (I used a cookie sheet since I don't have a french bread pan) and punch down dough. Divide into 2 parts and roll each part into a 16-18 inch rope. Put in the prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slash each loaf with a very sharp knife 2-3 times along the top and mist the loaves with water (I also misted the heck out of the oven. My hair is permanently frizzed) .
Bake in a preheated oven until the loaves are light and golden--20 to 25 minutes, misting them again when they have been in the oven for 7 minutes (again, I can't follow instructions, so I misted mine a couple more times, just to buck the system. I know-I'm such a rebel...)
Spread with butter, gorge yourself until you can't move and grin like the cat that ate the canary. THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD STUFF!!!