In large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, and salt. Add warm water. Beat with mixer on low, or by hand with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds, then at high speed for 3 minutes. Stir in as much remaining flour as you can.
Knead for about 10 minutes. If doing by hand, turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, and shape into a ball.
Place in a bowl that’s been greased or oiled. Cover with a moistened tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until dough doubles in size (about an hour).
Punch the dough down, and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Cover, and let rest 10 minutes.
FOR A LOAF PAN, pop the halves into loaf pans.
FOR A BATARD shaped loaf on a cookie sheet, roll each half into a 15×10 inch rectangle. Roll up from long sides, seal well. Taper ends.
Let rise until nearly double (probably about 40 min, depending on how warm your spot is – I often do this rise overnight in the fridge.) With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake at 375 °F for 20 min. or until bread looks done. Remove from baking sheet, cool.
You can also do sweet rolls with this – just do as suggested for the sweet bread above, but cut it up into 1 inch thick slices. Put these with the swirl side up in a greased pan before the second rise. You can drizzle a bit of “frosting” on top if you want. You can use powdered sugar plus milk or water or whatever.
This recipe can be used for pizza dough, too. Just do it like you are doing french bread, except don’t roll it up. Top with your fav pizza toppings.
At the point where everything is in the right shape, you can pop it in the freezer. Once it’s hard, take it out of the pan and wrap in plastic wrap and plastic bag. Keeps frozen for ages. When you’re ready to thaw, you can let it defrost slowly and slow rise in the fridge, or faster rise somewhere warmer.