Crusty French BreadCuisinart Original Recipe
If you have time, allow a second rise before shaping to develop more flavor in the bread, but it is very good without it, too."
1¼ cups warm (105-110°F) warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
6¼ cups unbleached, all-purpose or bread flour
1¾ cake flour
¾ cup wheat germ
3½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1½ cups cold water
extra flour for dusting bread
Place the warm water in the Cuisinart™ mixing bowl. Stir in yeast and a tablespoon of the flour; let stand for 5 minutes, until mixture is foamy and bubbly.
While yeast is proofing, combine 5 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 1¼ cups of cake flour with the wheat germ and salt. Add the cold water and the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. Insert the dough hook and mix on speed 2 for 2 minutes. Combine remaining flours and reserve. Continuing on speed 2, add the remaining flour mixture 1 tablespoon at a time until a dough ball forms that clings to the dough hook and cleans the sides of the bowl. Set the timer for 4 minutes and the speed to 3 to allow the dough to knead.
Dust dough ball lightly with flour and place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Punch dough down, recover, and let rise again until doubled in size. (This last rise can be omitted if pressed for time, but makes for a more flavorful loaf, with a more artisanal bread texture and crust.) Punch dough down and divide into 3 pieces. Shape each into a long narrow loaf, about 14 to 16 inches in length, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Dust loaves generously with flour. Make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf about ¼-inch deep, using a serrated knife, razor or lame. Bake in preheated 425°F oven 25 to 30 minutes until browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.
Bread slices best when allowed to cool completely before slicing.