Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Baguettes

I know what you're thinking, but I promise this recipe is super simple and just yummy! You can eat these baguettes plain, with butter, as garlic bread, virtually any thing you can think of bread-wise can be done with these. And the best part, it's only going to take you about 45 minutes total to make these babies!

French Baguettes
The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner
by Liz Edmunds page 225

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons salt
Melted butter, for brushing on loaves (optional)

Proof the yeast in a small bowl, using 1/2 cup water, all of the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Stir quickly to combine and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate. Let this stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy. If this mixture doesn't get bubbly, you need to start over. 

In the bowl of a heavy duty mixer, blend flour (you usually want to start with the least amount and work up as needed), salt, last teaspoon of sugar and the proofed yeast mixture. Gradually add the water, this is kind of backwards from how you would usually make bread, but I promise that it works great. You can just add all the water and extra flour, whatever makes you happy! :) Gradually add the water, until the dough forms a ball and has pulled all the water and flour into it. If it's sticky you can always add a bit more flour. Turn dough onto a floured surface and gently knead for just a few minutes, you want the dough to be smooth and elastic. 

Time for the fun part! Cut your dough in half and shape into baguettes, kind of just roll into snakes, just like you're playing with playdough! You can use a special baguette pan, if you have one, but they work just fine on a normal cookie sheet. Grease your pan and place the loaves on it. Make a shallow cut down the middle, cover the pan with a clean dish towel and allow to rise in a warm place until they've doubled (about 30 minutes).

While those loaves are rising, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees with a shallow pan of water on the lowest rack to create steam. Bake your baguettes for 15 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped with a knife. You can either brush your loaves with butter when they've baked about halfway (crispier crust) or brush them when they are completely cooked (softer crust). 

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