In a small bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes, or until it begins to foam.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture on medium-low speed or by hand. Knead in 1/2 cup of the remaining flour in increments until the dough is smooth but not sticky. Add more flour as needed.
Rub the olive oil around the dough ball, cover the bowl with a towel and let rest 15 to 30 minutes. If you have more time, let rise up to 1 hour.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and divide it in half. Set one half aside. Roll the other half into a rectangle (about 15 inches). Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a cylinder.
Turn both ends in and pinch the seams closed. Round the edges and place onto a baking sheet. Repeat with the second dough ball. Make three diagonal cuts across the top of each loaf. Cover loaves lightly with a towel. Let rise 30 to 60 minutes (the longer the better, if you have the time).
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake 17 to 23 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. When you knock on it, it should sound hollow. If it's browning too fast, lightly cover with foil and lower the temperature to 375°F.
Brush the top with melted butter, if desired. Slice and serve while warm.
Crispy crust: I prefer a soft crust, but for a crispier/shinier crust, brush 1 egg white (whisked) with a teaspoon of water before baking french bread loaf. You can also add a few ice cubes into the oven to help trap the steam and add a few minutes onto the cooking time.Storing: This bread stores best in a brown paper bag on the counter. Freezer instructions: Allow to cool and then place in a large zip top bag to freeze (preferably before slicing). Remove all the air from the bag and then freeze up to 3 months. Thaw overnight on the counter. Reheat in the oven at 300°F for 5 minutes.