These 18-24-inch wands of French bread are as much a symbol of France as the Eiffel Tower. And while French women don’t often have need to bake them today, when they are for sale on almost every commercial block of every town and city, there’s no substitute for the intoxicating aromas of freshly baked bread at home. Good baguettes should be crusty, moist and slightly chewy and, of course, flavorful. And they are amazingly easy to make.
4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 teaspooons kosher salt
Serving: Makes 4 baguettes; Serving = 1 oz piece
In a small bowl dissolve yeast in ½ cup warm water using a fork. Set aside for 10 minutes. Combine flour and salt. Add yeast mixture, stir in remaining 1½ cup water. Mix until sticky enough to knead. Knead for 6-10 minutes; dough should be sticky and smooth. Put in a bowl, cover with a damp tea cloth, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume. Punch down and divide into 4 pieces. Roll each into a ball and shape into a baguette. Transfer to slightly greased baking sheet (I use a special baguette-shaped baking pan) and let rise until nearly doubled). Brush with mixture of one beaten egg and one TB water. Score. Pour two cups of hot water in a pan and place in preheated 450° F oven. Bake the baguettes for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 400° F and bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on a rack before slicing.