French Baguettes

In 7th grade, we had to choose between Spanish and French for language class. Being a lover of cheese, bread and pastries, the natural choice for me French. (Looking back, a more practical choice would have been Spanish, especially in the field of medicine, but alas, my stomach won over my brain once again.)

In French class, we would use any excuse to have a party and bring in food. I always volunteered to bring bread, and would head to school long loaves of crusty, soft French bread sticking out of my backpack. A fellow classmate would bring some fancy cheese, and we would sit and nosh on bread and cheese while watching French movies.

Someday, I will make my way over to France, and try some authentic French bread from a pâtisserie, but until then, I will have to make my own. This bread comes together rather quickly, and can be made even faster when it rises in the oven. To proof your dough in the oven, turn your oven to the lowest setting (usually around 175 degree F), leave it on for a few minutes, then turn it off. Place your dough in the oven, and let it raise until its doubled in size. This usually cuts down proofing time from 2 hours to around 30 minutes.

French Baguettes
Yields: 2 baguettes

1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp yeast
2 1/2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt

Put water, sugar, and yeast into the stand mixer bowl, and let it stand for 10 minutes until frothy. Add the flour in three batches and knead for 5-7 minutes on medium speed with the dough hook (adding additional flour if the dough is too sticky). Cover bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle dough evenly with salt and knead on medium speed for 1 minute to incorporate salt.

Transfer to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover and let rise until dough has doubled

Preheat oven to 425. Place broiler pan in the bottom of the oven.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash the top of the loaves every 2-3 inches. The blade should be sharp enough to easily slice the bread, without pushing down on the loaves.

Place into the oven. Pour 3/4 cup hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven door. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

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