Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Les Baguettes

The French have a true love affair with bread. French baguettes come in a dizzying array of sizes and styles and one size does not fit all.  This recipe is one for what James Beard calls "bread sticks," that are then modified to make baguette loaves. Be sure to eat when they are fresh out of the oven!

Difficulty Level: Facile (Easy)

What you need:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (100-115F)
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • coarse salt

What to do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar and salt. Add the oil and about 1/4 cup of water. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes or so. Add 1/2 cup of the flour and continue beating with the wooden spoon. Alternately add flour, 1 cup at a time, and water until you have a fairly soft dough, reserving about 1/2 the flour for kneading. Remove the dough to a floured surface and knead for several minutes until it springs back briskly when you press your fingers in. It should be smooth and satiny, and all the flour on the board should be absorbed.
  2. Let the dough rest on the board, covered with a towel, for about 5 minutes, then shape it into a roll about 20 inches long. With a sharp knife, cut in into 4 equal pieces. Rest the dough again for 3-4 minutes, then, using the palms of your hands, roll out each piece as long as the baking sheet or sheets you will use.
  3. Oil the baking sheet and arrange bread about one inch apart. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes or until they have doubled. Bake at 300F for 40-45 minutes. They should be nicely browned and crisp. Makes 3-4 loaves. Bon Appetit!

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