There are times that I enjoy making the bread completely by hand and other times- like after a busy weekend- when I prefer to let my Bread Machine earn it's keep. I love being able to throw everything in the machine and let it go while I do other things. So, using the bread machine made this an easy recipe. This made a really nice french bread that was crusty on the outside but very soft on the inside. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
1 1/4 cups water (70-80 degrees)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp cornmeal
1 tbsp water
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted (optional- I left these off)
1. Put the first 5 ingredients in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (mine says liquids then dry). Select dough cycle and start. After 5 minutes, check the dough and add 1 to 2 tbsp warm water or flour if needed.
2. When cycle is complete, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide in half. Roll each portion into a 10 inch x 8 inch rectangle. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long end; pinch seams to seal.
3. Sprinkle a greased sheet with cornmeal; place loaves seam side down on pan. Make 4-5 slashes in the dough with a sharp knife. Cover and let rise in warm place until double, about 20 minutes. (*note- the original recipe says to cut slashes in the dough AFTER the 20 minute rise- I cut one loaf before the rise and one after and much preferred the one I did at this stage).
4. Whisk egg and water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.