Crusty Homemade Baguettes
Crusty Homemade Baguettes Preparation
Run the water in your faucet until it gets very warm. Pour 1/4 cup of water into a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Mix the salt into the water and yeast mixture and let the mixture set while you measure the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour the water and yeast mixture in the hole. Slowly pour another 1 3/4 cup of warm water into the flour and mix well.
Put half the flour in a large bowl, add salt and yeast. Pour in water and mix well adding remaining flour until you have a soft dough.
Kneading with a Dough Hook
Using a mixer with a dough hook, knead the dough for ten minutes, until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should feel damp and slightly firm, but not sticky. If it?s sticky, add a little more flour and continue kneading.
Rising and Shaping the Dough
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until it doubles in size. Press the dough down and divide it into two pieces (for large loaves...for baguettes divide into 4). With your hands, make two long, smooth loaves about two inches thick and about twelve inches long. Place the loaves on a greased pan and let them rise again. Preheat the oven to 450?. When the loaves have doubled in size, make three or four diagonal slashes with a sharp knife or razor blade. About five minutes before the loaves are ready to cook, put about 1/2 cup of water in a pan on the lowest rack of your oven. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 25 or 30 minutes.
Kneading by Hand
If you don?t have a mixer with a dough hook, not to worry. Just knead the dough by hand. Put a little flour on your counter or cutting board. Pick up one side of the dough and push it into the other side with the heels of your hand. Rotate the dough and repeat the action. Continue rotating and pushing the dough with your hands for ten minutes. Then form the loaves and proceed as above.
Impress your family and friends with your bread-making skill. Serve the bread warm with garlic butter or toast and serve it for breakfast with butter and jam. Slice it thin and use it for making appetizers. Let your guests pinch off pieces and dip them in spreads or flavored oil.
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