So with a little help from Epicurious, I made my favorite-savory-bread-yet today. (Favorite sweet bread is cardamom; I'm sure I'll make that again soon too.) It was easy and quick in actual prep time (a total of 2 hours rising time, which isn't too bad either). So, without further ado:
Epicurious' One-a-day Baguette, plus or minus a bit:
- 1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
In a large bowl sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water and let stand until foamy. Stir in 2 cups flour, then salt and remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to keep from sticking. Oil a large bowl, roll the dough around in it to coat, and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Punch down dough and form into two long slender loaves, about 15 inches long each. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rise again, this time for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 475 F and fill a pan on the lowest oven rack with boiling water. The steam from the pan will help the bread develop the characteristic crunchy crust.
Once risen, make 3 or 4 diagonal slashes on loaves with a sharp knife and place on upper or middle oven rack, above the water. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a cooling rack. Do not cut for at least 10 minutes.These loaves turned out amazingly. Perfectly golden brown, wonderful soft and fluffy interior with a crunchy crispy baguette crust. Simply heavenly. Okay, that's enough text, time for more pictures!
Just out of the oven...
And another close-up because I just can't resist...
Technicality note: because my loaves were not super-long and skinny they are actually more of bâtards, which are wider than baguettes. (Bâtard is French for bastard or hybrid.) Random historical linguistics factoid: The circumflex (e.g. â) in French orthography denotes that in an earlier incarnation of French spelling there was an s following that letter.