French Bread and Bread Boules

Soup Boules for Dinner and a French Loaf.
This recipe normally makes two 18" loaves but my plan is to make bread boules for soup and one loaf.  I have already gotten it started this morning, oops!  There is the timer now.  Excuse me while I go check to see if it has risen appropriately.

Perfectly risen and I am delighted.  Here is my recipe:

Ingredients for French Bread:

2 C. warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 t. honey
3 T. Instant yeast
5 C. bread flour (organic if you have it)
1 t. salt
1-2 T. olive oil
1 egg white slightly beaten
1 T. cold water

Using a small bowl combine the water and honey and stir until dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast across the top and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl , combine 2 C. of flour, salt, and the yeast mixture.  Mix with a wooden spoon for about a half of a minute.  Gradually add 2 more cups of flour.

Knead by hand or with a machine adding additional flour until the dough is smooth and elastic adding the 1 remaining cup of flour as you go.  NOTE:  Depending on the weather and humidity it could take a bit more or less flour.

Put the oil in a large bowl then add the ball of dough turning it to coat.  Cover and stand to raise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours until double in size.

Punch the dough down.  Turn onto a floured board and divide in half.  Then divide one of the halves again.  Form into 3 portions, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes.  Roll the larger half into a 15"x 10" rectangle then roll from the long end into a loaf.  Make 3 gashes in the top of the loaf. Place Seam side down on baking stone strewn with cornmeal.  Form the two smaller portions into smooth balls and slash the tops.  Position them rough side down on a baking stone strewn with cornmeal.  Cover the three portions and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Combine egg white and cold water.  Brush the loaves and return to the oven directly on the racks, having removed the loaves from the baking stones.  Bake an additional 15-25 minutes until the loaves sound hollow when tapped.  Cool on wire racks.

Yield 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 2 boules.  This bread will freeze nicely but be sure to cool completely then double wrap.

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