1 cup warm water
1 1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a mixing bowl ( I used my Kitchen-aid mixer bowl) dissolve yeast in warm water and let sit for 5-10 minutes until it begins to foam.
Add sugar, salt and flour. knead on a lightly floured surface, or using a mixer with dough hook attachment. Knead dough for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes with a mixer.
Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes. Dough is ready if indentation stays after being touched lightly with your finger.
Punch down, place on a lightly flour dusted surface, flatten to about 16X 12 rectangle, cut in half so you have two approx. 8 X 12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half tightly starting with the 12 inch side. pinch seam closed on the bottom and gently turn ends under and pinch closed. If you prefer a larger french bread loaf don't cut in half. Place on baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise for approx. 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Brush lightly with egg wash. With a sharp knife cut slits diagonally across loaves every 2 inches or so.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
cool on rack for 1 hour before cutting.