If you have never had a piece of crusty baguette with a chunk of old, runny camembert and a glass of Merlot (or Pinot Noir for the Sideways fans), then you have definitely been missing out on the joys of life.
What else can I say about baguettes!? A staple in French households, you can find baguettes everywhere but finding the perfect baguette can be a challenge. Too chewy, too soft, too crusty, too doughy…etc. Hard to make everyone happy!
My favourite baguettes are crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, just like the ones will get from this recipe that I adapted from the Joy of Cooking. The recipe makes two baguettes, but you can bake one loaf the first day and save the other one for breakfast the next day. Just make sure to have butter, jam or nutella handy!
Ingredients for 2 baguettes (check the other bread recipes for pics):
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3/5 ounces (approx. 35 grams) fresh yeast
1½ cups room temperature water
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.
2. Crumble and mix the fresh yeast with the flour.
3. Make a well at the center and pour the water into the well.
4. Stir thoroughly by hand and knead for about 15 mins, until a soft and elastic dough is obtained.
5. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 2 hrs in a warm place, until doubled in size.
6. Once doubled in size, punch the dough.
7. Divide the dough into two rectangles on a floured board.
10. Score each loaf with a knife and cover with a floured cloth.
11. Let rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 mins, until almost doubled in size.
12. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
13. At the bottom of the oven, place a baking pan filled with water.
14. Bake the baguettes for 15 mins. (Reduce the time to 10 mins to less crusty bread.)
15. Lower the heat to 350 F and bake for another 30 mins.
16. Beat the egg white with water.
17. Brush the baguettes with the egg wash and bake for another 5 mins.
18. Let cool on a rack.