*Note: you do need a good stand mixer for this one. I was fortunate to finally get my Kitchenaid mixer for my birthday last year. This recipe has very specific instructions that contribute to the light texture and I just don't think it would turn out the same if it was mixed or kneaded by hand.
Fail-proof French Bread
1/2 cup warm water
2 TB yeast
Mix and dissolve, set aside.
2 cups hot water
3 TB sugar
1 TB salt
1/3 cup oil
Put in mixer, dissolve.
Add yeast mixture and 3 cups flour. Beat well.
Add 3 more cups flour. Using the dough hook attachment, beat well to form a soft dough. Don't worry if the dough is more soft than normal bread dough.
Let rest 10 minutes. Stir batter down, let rest 10 minutes. Repeat process of stirring dough, followed by 10 minutes of rest until it has been done a total of 5 times. (If you are the forgetful type, like yours truly, put 5 pieces of tape on the edge of your counter top. Each time your timer goes off to indicate the end of 10 minutes of rest, remove a piece of tape until all the tape is gone.)
Turn dough onto floured board and knead only enough to coat dough with flour. Divide into 2 portions. Toll each portion into a 9x12 inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style, omitting the air bubbles. Arrange lengthwise on a greased cookie sheet.
Brush tops with a beaten egg while (optional). Slash 3 times diagonally on each loaf.
Cover, let rise until doubles, about 30 min. Bake at 400 for 35 min.