Total 3 hours and 10 minutes (includes rising and cooling times)
Active 30 mins
Makes two 12-inch loaves
TIP: Store any leftover bread in a sealed bag at room temperature for up to 3 days.
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups warm water (110°F)
5 cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
Melted unsalted butter, for brushing the loaves
In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Let the mixture sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast mixture is not foaming, your water was too hot/cold or the yeast expired.)
Meanwhile, in your stand mixer bowl, stir together 3 cups of the flour and the salt, then pour in the yeast mixture. Fit the mixer with the dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed, slowly adding the remaining 2 cups flour. Once the dough starts to form, continue mixing until the dough is slightly tacky but will pull away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, gently knead the dough into a ball. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and add the dough. Cover the bowl with a towel and set in a dim/warm location for 30 minutes to allow the dough to rest.
Preheat the oven to 375°F and place a small, rimmed empty baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Punch down the dough. On a lightly floured surface, split the dough into two equal balls and press each ball into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Roll each rectangle, beginning with one long end, into a 12-inch-long log, pressing out the air bubbles as you roll. Pinch the seams together to seal and place the logs, seam-side down, on the lined baking sheet.
Using a sharp razor blade, score the top of the dough with shallow angled lines about 2 inches apart from each other, all the way down each loaf. Cover the loaves with a towel and let rest at room temperature for 25 minutes.
Bake the loaves on a rack above the empty baking sheet. Place 3 ice cubes in the empty baking sheet and shut the oven door. (This creates steam in the oven, which will help harden the crust of the French bread).
Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing.