There’s a certain moment in the bread-baking process where you remember exactly why you spent all that time kneading, crafting, and waiting.
It’s not the moment you take the bread out of the oven, or the moment you finally bite into a slice. It’s several minutes before that time. It’s the moment when you perk up, and notice that your entire apartment smells of freshly baking bread. It’s that moment, above any other, that reminds me why I enjoy the bread-baking process.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the fresh loaf is absolutely delicious! Instructions for making a whole-wheat variety are also included below.
Recipe from Epicuriuos.
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
DOWN TIME: 2 hours
COOK TIME: 30 minutes
YIELD: 1 Fresh Baguette
WHAT TO GRAB:
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115° F)
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (for kneading)
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. In a small bowl, stir together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let it stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the mixture doesn’t foam, you’ll have to discard it and start over with new yeast.)
2. With a wooden spoon stir in two cups of the flour until combined. Stir in the salt and the remaining two cups of flour. The mixture should form a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface knead the dough with lightly floured hands for eight minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled deep bowl, turning to coat with oil. Let the dough rise in the bowl, covered with plastic wrap, until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
4. Punch down the dough and form into a long slender loaf about 21 inches long and 3 inches wide. Place the loaf diagonally on a lightly greased large baking sheet and let it rise, uncovered, for thirty minutes. (The baguette may be made up to this point four hours ahead and chilled.)
5. Make three or four diagonal slashes on the loaf with a sharp knife. Lightly brush the top with cool water. Bake the loaf in the middle of the oven for thirty minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.
6. Slice and toast for crostini!
whole wheat baguette
To make whole wheat baguettes, substitute two cups of whole wheat flour for two cups of the all-purpose flour. You may need to add 1/4 cup of water to the dough. Otherwise, the recipe remains the same.