Prepare the bread according to your choice of techniques below.
Bread Machine Instructions:
Add all the ingredients in the bread pan of bread machine. Process according to manufacturer's instructions for a dough setting. Do not be afraid to open the lid and check the dough. It should form a nice elastic ball. If you think the dough is too moist, add additional flour (a tablespoon at a time). The same is true if the dough is looking dry and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time).
If you can not judge your dough by looking, stick your finger in and feel the dough. It should be slightly tacky to the touch. When the bread machine has completed the dough cycle, remove the dough from the pan to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough several times and form the dough into an oval; cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Stand Up Mixer Instructions:
In a large bowl or in the bowl of a 5-quart stand mixer, add all the ingredients. Using a dough hook, mix all the ingredients together into a uniform dough. It should form a nice elastic ball. If you think the dough is too moist, add additional flour (a tablespoon at a time). The same is true if the dough is looking dry and gnarly. Add warm water (a tablespoon at a time).
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until elastic, about 15 minutes. In an electric mixer, it should take about 9 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
After resting, turn dough bottom side up and press to flatten. Fold dough into an envelope by folding the top 1/3 of the way to the bottom. Then fold the bottom a 1/3 of the way over the top. Then press dough with the palm of your hand to make an indentation down the center of the dough and fold the top completely to the bottom, sealing the seam with the palm of your hand. Place on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal or covered with a Silicone Baking Mats. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise, approximately 30 minutes or until dough has doubled.
Preheat oven to 375°F. After rising, slash the bread with a very sharp knife making three 1/2-inch deep diagonal slashes. Brush or spray the top of the bread with cold water and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until nicely browned. A good check is to use an instant digital thermometer to test your bread. The internal temperature should be between 200 and 210 degrees F.
Makes 1 loaf.
This is a typical mixture that professional bakers use to get that characteristic sheen on breads. I keep this mixture in my refrigerator to use on all the breads I bake.
In a small saucepan, with a small whisk, stir together water and cornstarch. Heat mixture to a gentle boil. Stir, reduce heat, until mixture thickens and is translucent. Cool.
Brush on loaf about 10 minutes before baking is finished; top with poppy seeds (optional).
* If desired, you could substitue spartkling white wine.
Champagne French Bread Recipe: https://whatscookingamerica.net/bread/champfrench.htm