Just perfect – soft inside, crusty outside. Makes two large loaves, the whole thing with the egg is optional (I don’t do it).
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 T sugar
2 T dry yeast
1 T salt
2 T oil
6 cups flour
1 egg, beaten (optional)
In a large bowl (I put the dough hook on my kitchen aid for this), combine water, sugar and yeast. Let stand for about 5 minutes or until bubbly. 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 (I turned the mixer on medium high for about 10 seconds or less). Repeat this process 5 times, which will take 1 hour. Place dough onto a very lightly floured board, and knead only enough to coat dough with flour so it can be handled (for me it hardly took any extra flour); divide dough in half. Roll each section into a rectangle, about 9X12″ long. Roll up from the 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 and let rise 30-45 minutes.
Glaze with beaten egg (optional). use a very sharp knife to gently make 3 diagonal slashes in the top of each loaf.
Bake at 375 for 25-30 minuets. Remove to a rack, cover with a towel (which keeps the crust softer), and serve warm.