Twentieth Century Americans have adopted French bread for their own. Made without milk or shortening, it is best eaten, as the French do, shortly after it is baked.
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the water. Sift the flour, sugar and salt, stir in the yeast. Add just enough of the second cup of water to hold the dough together. Mix until soft and sticky. Cover with a clean cloth, set in a warm spot and let rise until double (2-4 hours). When the dough is high and spongy, punch it down and beat for several minutes with floured hands. Divide the bread in two parts and place each part in long loaves (roll out the dough and roll into a tight cylinder, pinching the edges firmly together) on a greased cookie sheet or in greased round glass baking casseroles. Cover again and let rise until double in size. Start oven at 400 degrees F. Brush the bread with melted butter and bake for 1 hour.
Slice French bread ¾ inch thick-to but not through the bottom crust. Brush with ¼ cup of butter creamed with 4 tablespoons of herbs (parsley with chives or thyme or dill, or tarragon with chives). Press the bread firmly together and heat for 10 minutes in a 400 degrees F oven.
Garlic Bread: Rub the crusty loaf with a clove of garlic and proceed as above.
Cheese Bread: Mix grated cheese with butter and spread between the slices.
Anchovy Bread: Add a few mashed anchovies to the butter and spread between the slices.