I'm not being modest when I say that I'm no good at baking. Which is why I want you to pay special attention to the photo below.
Do you see that bread? Me, the Queen of All Failed Baked Goods, made a French bread that was as perfectly delicious as it was gorgeous. As I was browsing my books for French bread recipes so that I could take something yummy to a potluck party we were invited to, I knew I had come across the right one when I read, "this bread is a no-fail winner". No fail is right.
...from The Essential Mormon Cookbook
2.5 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dry yeast
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
6 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
sesame seeds or poppy seeds
In a large bowl combine water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy. Stir in salt, oil and 3 cups of the flour. Stir vigorously. Add remaining 3 cups of flour and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir down. Repeat this process 5 times, which will take one hour. Place dough onto a floured board. Knead only enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled; divide in half. Roll into two rectangles about 9x12 inches long. Roll up from long side. Moisten seam with small amount of water and pinch to seal. Arrange both loaves lengthwise on a large, well-greased cookie sheet. Place seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 45 minutes.
Glaze with beaten egg (brush on very gently) and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Use a very sharp knife to gently make 3 diagonal gashes in the top of each loaf.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and cover with a towel (this keep the crust soft). Serve warm. Makes 2 loaves.