I have been making bread for a long time...like 40 years, but I have always been frustrated with making french bread because I usually had the loaf spreading out over the pan. That is until I read a tutorial about making french bread loaves and learned that it is important to create tension when shaping the loaf...that and adding a rolled towel on each side of the loaf when it is placed on parchment paper. By following those steps I finally got a loaf shaped like french bread.
This wasn't really a french bread recipe but rather a white bread recipe. I was just practicing making a french loaf. I'd offer you some, but it disappeared pretty quickly.
The other thing I learned is how to make a poolish starter, which is just a fermented starter. In other words you just give the yeast a head start (like 1 day) before making the dough. This is a french bread made with poolish. It takes a little more planning because of the time involved for the poolish. I let this one raise a wee bit longer because I wanted to use this bread sliced horizontally for hot beef sandwiches...they were good...really good.
I really like focaccia and found a recipe that was a little different than my usual rosemary and parmesan one. It has sliced red grapes, basil and rosemary and parmesan cheese...it was really good too. Bread...it's good for the soul! Mom