The easiest and best French bread you will ever make. Simple ingredients, mixed in a stand mixer or by hand. Makes two huge loaves!
When the dough has risen, stir down with a large spoon. If making in a stand mixer, turn the machine on low for a few seconds until the dough is deflated, and push dough to bottom part of bowl with a spatula.
Repeat 5 times, every ten minutes, for a total of 60 minutes of rising and then punching (or pushing) down.
Score the bread across the top 3 or 4 times, and brush with beaten egg (if using).
Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes in lower half of oven, until golden brown. Or you may bake at 350-375 convection for 18-20 minutes until golden.