I adore bread – especially fresh bread right from oven.
I’m so thankful that God blessed me with a daughter who’s goal for the year is to learn to bake beautiful hard crusted artisan breads. (Are you jealous yet? You should be you know!)
For our Valentine’s party – she worked all afternoon to make these out-of-this-world French Baguettes.
She was so thrilled to pull them out of the oven and thump that hard crust and hear the crunch when she cut into it.
We were thrilled with the soft pillow-like inside and the wonderful yeasty flavor!
They did take some time to make – but weren’t difficult. We just had to do a little planning ahead to get them done in time.
Trust me – they were worth the effort!
5 cups white bread flour (we used only all-purpose flour and it was fine)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 ounce fresh yeast
2-1/4 cups lukewarm water
Sift the flours and salt into a bowl. Add the yeast to the water in another bowl and stir to dissolve. Gradually beat in half the flour mixture to form a batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for about 3 hours or until nearly tripled in size and starting to collapse.
Add the remaining flour a little at a time, beating with your hand. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes to form a moist dough. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise, in a warm place, for 1 hour.
When the dough has almost doubled in bulk, punch it down, turn out onto a floured surface and divide into 3. Shape each into a rectangle measuring about 6 X 3 inches.
Fold the bottom third up lengthwise and the top third down, and press down to make sure the pieces of dough are in contact. Seal the edges. Repeat two or three more times until each loaf in an oblong. Let rest in between folding for a few minutes, if necessary, to avoid tearing the dough.
Gently stretch each piece of dough lengthwise into a 13-14 inch long loaf. Pleat a floured dish towel on a baking sheet to make 3 molds for the loaves. Place the breads between the pleats of the towel to help hold their shape while they are rising. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let rise, in a warm place, for about 45-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to the maximum, at least 450 degrees. Roll the loaves onto a baking sheet, spaced well apart. Using a sharp knife slash the top of each loaf several times with long diagonal slits. Bake at the top of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden.
Spray inside the oven with water 2-3 times during the first 5 minutes of baking, or place a pan with water on the bottom rack of the oven beneath the bread. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Makes 3 wonderfully crusty loaves.
I’ve linked this post up over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam’s Tasty Tuesday.