I think it has been well established that I love bread, good bread. Fresh from the oven, warm and tasty. It is so incredibly good that it is hard to resist. Someone told me recently that good fresh bread is like crack, you can't resist eating it. I have to agree.
Now I usually say to wait for the loaf to cool before cutting into it so it doesn't dry out but this loaf is so quick and easy to make that I say cut as soon as you like. It won't last long so grab some cheese, tomatoes, salami, butter, jam or whatever you like best with fresh bread and dig in.
The dough has A LOT of oven spring (initial quick rise in the first few minutes after putting the dough in the oven) so when shaping your loaves keep in mind that they will double or maybe triple in size (around not in length).
French Style Bread
2-1/4 cups warm water
3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
5-1/2 to 6 cups All purpose flour
3 Tablespoons instant yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Morton's)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (400 if using convection).
Combine all the ingredients in the order they are listed above (when adding the flour begin with 5-1/2 cups of flour for now) in your mixing bowl. Knead in a stand mixer for about 6-7 minutes adding more flour if needed to get a soft dough that barely cleans the side of the bowl and is a little tacky. Leave dough in the mixing bowl, cover it with a towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 12 minutes until you have a soft slightly tacky smooth dough, then place in the mixing bowl and cover with towel to rise for 15 minutes.
Prepare a jelly roll pan or large cookie sheet (preferably with an edge on all 4 sides) by spraying with nonstick spray. Spray your counter with nonstick spray and remove dough from bowl and place on the counter. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a long thin loaves. The dough will bulk up in the oven 3-4 times the size of the initial loaves you form so keep them long and thin, I usually have them almost as long as the jelly roll pan. Slash diagonally each loaf 3-4 times with a very sharp knife or razor blade. Brush each loaf lightly with water if you like and put it in the oven.
Bake for 23-28 minutes until a deep golden brown (interior of loaf should read 195-200 on instant thermometer if you are not sure). Remove from oven, remove loaves from pan and place on a cooling rack and allow to cool.