I have been making these for over 35 years. They are so fast and easy and taste better then the ones from the store! We have started turning our baguettes into our new sandwich bread, cut them to the perfect size. Freeze in zip lock bags to have on hand. This bread makes an ordinary sandwich special!
- 1½ cups warm (105-115 degrees) water, divided
- 1½ tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
- 3¼ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Melted butter, for brushing on loaves (optional)
- In a small bow, combine ½ cup of the water, the yeast, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir just to combine and cover with plastic wrap or a plate. Let the mixture stand about 5 minutes or until bubble or foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of heavy-duty mixer or food processor, blend the flour, salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the yeast mixture. Gradually add water, up to the remaining 1 cup, and mix until the dough forms a smooth ball that is not too sticky to handle. (If the dough ends up too sticky, add a little more flour.) Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Cut the dough in half and shape the halves into baguettes. Grease a baguette pan (available at kitchen stores) and place the loaves in the pan. Score the loaves down the middle (make a shallow cut- see the photo on page 217) cover with a dish towel, and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven to create stream (see the beginning of the chapter) Bake the baguettes for 15 minutes or until they have a hollow sound when tapped with a knife. If desired, brush the tops of the loaves with butter halfway through baking. For a softer crust, brush with butter when they have finished baking.