French Baguettes

I started baking bread a few years ago & have become hooked.  It’s amazing how small changes in ingredients, technique and even weather can effect the finished product.  This recipe yields 3-4 loaves depending on how you divide the dough.  Leftover bread can be frozen for breadcrumbs and day-old Baguettes can be used for french toast!

French Baguettes

1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
Cornmeal, for dusting
Egg or Milk, for brushing

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir to blend. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the salt. Add the flour, a little at a time, mixing at the lowest speed until most of the flour has been incorporated and the dough forms a ball. Continue to mix at the lowest speed until the dough has become a sticky ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl; about 4 to 5 minutes.

Dust the counter lightly with flour. Knead the dough by hand for a minute and form into a ball. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let it sit in a warm spot for 2 hours to rise.

To form the baguettes: Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Press each piece of dough into a rectangle and fold the long sides up into the middle. Roll each into a log, taking care to close the seam. Taper the ends by gently rolling it back and forth. Lay the dough on a perforated baguette pan (or a sheet pan that is dusted with cornmeal) and cover with a towel. Let the baguettes rise for another 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

With a lame (bread slashing tool) or a very sharp knife, make 4 or 5 diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf. Brush the tops of the loaves with egg (or milk). Bake for 40 minutes, until the bread is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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