A good crunchy baguette is at the top of my list of simple pleasures. It's right up there with my first cup of morning coffee, mom's chocolate chip cookies, and a ripe tomato sandwich (with Duke's mayo and S/P, on untoasted honey wheat bread).
I must thank my great friend Elisabeth's mom for sharing her baguette recipe with me. This recipe has been made in their house every day for years, and was a staple on the dinner table when Elisabeth was growing up. I have hauled my Kitchen Aid mixer to South Carolina just so I could make this baguette for my parents, it's just that good. I love to make a good mussel broth for the perfect baguette dipping sauce.
This evening, we are pretending we are sitting in a French bistro with a bottle of white, Madeline Peyroux on the iPod, and this simple dinner. Bon Appétit!
French Baguette1 cup water (must be room temperature)
2 and 1/2 cup bread flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp Fleishmann's yeast
Put the ingredients in a mixer with the dough hook, in the above order (very important). Put salt on one side of bowl and yeast on the other side of the bowl (also very important).
Mix for 2 minutes - then shut off mixer and let it sit for 7 minutes. Then mix for an additional 3 minutes.
Take dough and place in a greased bowl (I use Pam) and roll the dough around so the entire ball has a light greased layer. Cover bowl with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warmer place for 1 to 1&1/2 hours. Then punch dough back down. Roll into the baguette (either one or two depending on size) and make sure the roll has a kind of seal around it so that the yeast expands within the baguette. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes. Make slices across the top with a knife before placing in the oven.
Bake at 375 to 400 degrees for roughly 20 minutes, until it looks nice and brown. For a crusty baguette (which I love) place a cake pan with ice cubes in the lower oven shelf to create steam. Try not to open the oven while cooking because it lets the steam out.
Let baguette cool for a bit before cutting. Enjoy!