Easy French Bread Baguettes

Isn’t this baguette pretty? I really enjoy baking bread, but I don’t get to do it too much. These loaves were my first try at making baguettes.

I have to admit that I am intimidated by recipes that call for making a sponge days in advance – and don’t get me started on how terrifying saking sourdough from scratch is. I tend to stick with recipes that involve one or two non-scary rises. I searched through the recipes at AllRecipes until I found this one for French Bread. It sounded easy and got good reviews. It turned out to be chewy with a nice, though not terribly thick, crisp crust. It only took 5 cups of flour, and I substituted one cup of all purpose flour with one cup of white whole wheat flour, and I couldn’t even taste the change.

Easy French Bread

5 cups all purpopse flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

Put yeast in 1/4 cup of the water (with a pinch of sugar) for 5-10 minutes, until foamy. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour and salt. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled.
Gently deflate the dough and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up tightly, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends and pinch to seal.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water and brush on loaves. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and crusty.

7 comments

  1. whoa.. homemade baguettes! they look beautiful though.. and they sound delightful. the recipe sounds quite easy too.. i’m always scared of bread baking too though.. hehe

  2. Oh thank you Emily. This is a good recipe to try, since it is really basic. You could always try forming the dough into loaves, for an even easier bread.

  3. Your bread looks good! I would be inclined to bake at a higher oven temperature (but that’s just me). I usually preheat the oven to as high as it will go and then spray the loaf with water just before the bread goes in the oven. When it goes in, I turn the oven down to 400F and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn it around and bake 15 more minutes or until the bread really sounds hollow on the bottom.

    I love bread that calls for making a sponge in advance! There is something so amazing about taking a few minutes the night before making bread stirring a bowl of glop, covering it with one of those plastic shower hat like things and leaving it in a cool place overnight (our kitchen in the winter, the fridge in the summer) I can never get over how bubbly the sponge is the next day even after being in the fridge! One of my favourite bread recipes actually calls for TWO pre-ferments! (Warning, it isn’t for the faint hearted because the dough is pretty slack. But it’s worth it!!)

    http://ejmtph.crosswinds.net/recipes/rusticbread.html#boule

  4. Next time I’m baking bread,I’ll have to try your recipe. It doesn’t sound too intimidating! Of course, I’ll probably feel differently when staring down at a porridge-like dough. =)

  5. hi, I saw your link through purplegirl’s comment section. I am so interested to try this recipe, as I am sure my husband would love it!

  6. how much grams is 1 package of dry yeast? and how much is 1 cup in grams? thanks

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