A friend of mine asked that I share my baguette recipe with her, and I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone by posting it here.
Efficient, aren’t I?
My first two sentences are a great examples as to why someone should hire me on the spot:
- I’m friendly.
- I’m helpful.
- I’m a team player, willing to share insight that will help others get ahead in their games.
- I follow through with what I say I’m going to do.
- I find ways to be productive using less energy.
- I bake (and because I’m friendly, I’m very likely to share.)
See? Lots of reasons to make me a part of a great team!
Maybe I should use that in my next interview…
Anyway, if you too want to make your own baguettes and be known as the Martha Stewart on your block, I highly suggest that you learn this simple recipe. If you’re really smart, you won’t tell anyone how easy it is to do. People will think you can do ANYTHING because you slave to make your own fresh baked, crusty outside-soft inside loaves.
Just watch that you’re not too good or else you might be asked to insulate a garage or something.
I’m just saying.
(makes 3 loaves)
- 2 C warm water
- 1 Tsp yeast (or one packet – close enough)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 5-6 c flour
Turn the oven to 170°. As soon as it is warm, turn it off. (It is now ready to proof your dough.)
Mix the yeast, sugar and some water so that the yeast hydrates. It should get a little frothy look. Mix in the rest of the water and salt. Add 3 cups of flour and stir until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
Note: I use a Kitchen Aid mixer and the dough hook to do the mixing because I am a 105 lb wimp. If you do it all by hand, well, goody for you. You must be Popeye’s distant cousin. In your case, I suggest adding a can of spinach to the list of ingredients and eat it before you start mixing the bread.
Add the rest of the flour a little bit at a time and knead the mixture until it is smooth and bread-dough like. Again, I use the Kitchen Aid, but you do it as you see fit, show off.
Put dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel and place in the warmed (but off!) oven.
Ignore the dough and go take a bath, watch a couple of episodes of The Office or read for an hour.
At the end of that hour, punch down the dough. (Remove the towel first!) Divide into thirds and stretch them each into long sausage- like rolls, ones that will fit on your pans.
Note: This works best with a baguette pan. However, seeing how I don’t have one, I put it on two pans, one that’s a 15″ cookie sheet and can hold 2 loaves and another that is a normal-sized cookie sheet that can hold one.
Now let the loaves rise for 30 minutes, just enough time to go for a quick jog or, in my case, play a few games of heart on the computer… or catch up on facebook.
Preheat oven to 450°.
Make some diagonal cuts to relieve the stress… in the loaves, not your wrists! Sheesh, I know it’s the holidays, didn’t you just have a relaxing bath? Things can’t be that bad… besides, you’ll miss the bread if you cut out now.
TIP 1: Spray the top of the loaves with water before baking. It will make them brown and beautiful.
TIP 2: Put 3 ice cubes in the bottom of the oven when you put the loaves in the oven. It creates a moist environment in which the bread will rise, make a smart crust and help the bread to become chewy on the inside.
Bake for 20 minutes.
TIP 3: 15 minutes into baking, open a bottle of red wine and slice some sharp cheddar cheese. You’ll be really happy you have them ready when the bread comes out of the oven. I’m just saying.Take bread out, eat, drink and be merry.
And remember to get someone else do the dishes. You’ve earned it!
Here’s a printable recipe for the French Bread (without all the snarky comments).