February 3, 2011

Baguette Bread

This is the first and only baguette bread I've ever tried.  It's very easy to make and absolutely wonderful!  Great for french toast, bruschetta, french bread pizza, garlic bread, and better yet dunked in a hot bowl of soup! 

1/3 cup very warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup cold water
pinch of flour and sugar to feed the yeast
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon water for the wash

In a glass measuring cup, combine the 1/3 cup warm water and yeast with a pinch of flour and sugar.  Stir well and set aside for 5 minutes to activate.  In a stand mixer with dough hook attached, place 3-1/2 cups flour and salt.  After the yeast has activated, add 1 cup of cold water to the yeast mixture and stir with a fork.  Add this to the flour and beat on low speed until it forms a ball, 2 to 5 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Turn mixer on again for 30 seconds or so.  Place in an oiled bowl, turning to coat the top. Cover with a damp bread cloth or towel.  Let rise in a cool place for 6-24 hours. (A cool basement works well).  A slow rise imparts the best flavor.  After the first rise, punch down dough and form into a roll.  On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to flatten into a large rectangle.  Starting on the long end, roll up tightly, halfway to the middle, then start with the other side up to the middle.  Pinch the sides together to close.  Place seam side down on a pan oiled with olive oil.  Or place on a baguette pan to rise.  Cover with a damp towel and let rise about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Combine 1 egg white with 1 tablespoon water and set aside.  With a knife, make 4 shallow, 1/2 inch slashes in top of bread.  Spritz top with a little water.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, then remove from oven and brush with egg wash and bake another 5 minutes or until nicely browned.

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