When I was in 6th grade, I was obsessed with France. Naturally, when it came time to write a report on any country of our choosing, I picked France.
This was a very important report, mostly because we were really supposed to be “learning” how to do research. We got graded every step of the way.
I tend to be a research junkie now, and remembering my 6th grade project made me realize I’ve always been a junkie. Most of my classmates turned in about 25-30 note cards. I turned in more than 200.
My classmates turned in a one or two page outline; mine was over thirty pages. My finished report was about fifty pages, whereas everyone else’s was around seven or eight pages.
I think I scared my teacher.
Though I may not be obsessed with France anymore, still, is it any wonder that I was determined to make baguettes at some point in my life? This recipe may not be authentic, but it’s easy to whip up any time you want freshly baked bread. I baked a couple of loaves over the holidays last year, and I think my parents and I had the first loaf devoured before the prime rib was even done roasting.
As for this time around baking the loaves, one was already gone when I got my camera out. What can I say? My friend had a jar of pasta sauce that his mom recently canned AND a bottle of garlic oil. So yes, the first loaf disappeared in a hurry as he toasted the bread with garlic oil, and we used the pieces to mop up leftover pasta sauce.
But the first time you make it, I really encourage you to just enjoy a slice or two with some really good quality butter. You won’t regret it.
1 package dry yeast
1 ¼ cups hot tap water
2 ¾ cups bread or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Combine yeast in a large bowl; pour hot water over and swish with your fingers to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes – yeast will smell “yeasty.”
Add 2 ¾ cups flour to the yeast mixture. Stir with paddle attachment on low speed until a soft dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle dough with salt. Using a dough hook, knead on medium-low until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. If dough is sticking to bowl, add flour a tablespoon at a time so it doesn’t stick to sides of bowl.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray, transfer dough to bowl. Roll the dough around so it’s coated with spray. Cover with plastic wrap or damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place 45 minutes or until doubled in size. Punch down dough, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Divide dough in half. On a floured work surface, shape dough into twelve inch long baguettes. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal and place dough on sheet. Slash each baguette three times for the classic baguette look – cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450. If a crisper crust is desired, spray dough with water. Bake for 20 minutes, cool completely before slicing.