In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast and let the yeast proof for 5 minutes until foamy (unless using instant yeast, in which case just skip this step and add it with everything in the next step).
Add the salt, oil, and 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture. Mix for 1-2 minutes, just until it starts to combine. Add in the remaining flour about half a cup at a time while the mixer is running on low speed, just until the dough forms into a ball that starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and is tacky to the touch. Continue to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until smooth, adding a little more flour if the dough starts to stick to the sides of the bowl again. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for another 1-2 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a clean counter that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and divide the dough into two equal sections. Working with one half of the dough at a time, pat it into a large rectangle, roughly 9x13-inches.
Roll the dough up starting from the long edges into a tight cylinder, turning the ends under and pinching the edges together to seal. Place seam side down on a perforated French bread pan or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough to form the second loaf.
Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap sprayed lightly with cooking spray and let them rise for another 30 minutes, until nearly doubled again in size.
Preheat the oven to 375°F while the loaves are rising. Just before putting the loaves in the oven, brush with egg wash, if using, and cut several gashes on an angle about 2-inches apart along the top of each loaf using a very sharp knife or baker's lame.
Transfer the loaves to the oven and toss 3-4 ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven floor and immediately close the oven door.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Brush loaves with melted butter after removing from the oven for a softer crust, if desired.