5-6 cups all-purpose flour (you can substitute whole wheat flour for 1 or 2 cups)
2 teaspoons dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water (120° to 130°)
*Mix 4 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt. Pour in hot water and beat 100 strokes, or three minutes with a mixer. Stir in the remaining flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead 8 minutes. (I use the dough hook on my kitchen aid mixer).
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise 15 minutes.
Punch down and shape into a large loaf. Place the dough in a deep baker that has been oiled.
Cut a slit about 1/2 inch deep along the top and several small slits on either side of the first slit. It will look a little like a branch with leaves when you are done.
Put the lid on the baker and place in a COLD oven. Turn oven to 400° and bake for 40 minutes. Don’t peek at it. You just have to trust that it is doing what it is supposed to.
Remove the lid and bake an additional 10-15 minutes to brown the top.