Makes 2 baguettes or 1 long or round loaf
Lightly grease large bowl; set aside.
Stir yeast into 1/3 cup water and let stand until mixture bubbles, about 5 to 7 minutes. Combine with flour in mixing bowl. Begin beating, adding sugar, salt and remaining water, and continue beating until well mixed.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to coat entire surface. Cover with plastic wrap and hot, damp towel and let stand in warm place until almost tripled in volume. When dough has risen, transfer to board, punch down and knead about 2 minutes to eliminate any air bubbles. Return to bowl, cover and let rise again until at least doubled.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease baking sheet. On lightly floured board, punch dough down, roll into oval, then form into desired shape. Make several slashes diagonally across top with knife or scissors. Place on baking sheet and let rise until loaf is doubled. Bake 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 F and bake 5 to 10 minutes more for baguettes, or 15 minutes for single loaf, until golden brown and bread gives hollow sound when tapped on bottom. Cool on rack.