375 ml water warmed in the microwave (about 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsps)
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
500 grams all purpose flour (about 4 cups) more for kneading
oil for greasing the bowl
1 tbsp cornmeal for dusting
1. Gather all the ingredients.
2. Pour the warm water into a large bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, salt and enough flour to make a shaggy mass when stirred with a spoon (the dough should come together, but will not be smooth). You may not need all the flour. Let the mixture sit for 20 to 30 mins to rehydrate.
3. Place bowl of dough on mixer with the dough hook and mix on low speed for 8 to 10 mins. Adjust with more water or flour as needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured service and knead it a few times with your hands until smooth and springy, The dough should be a little sticky (wetter) rather than too dry to achieve a light crumb.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out. Let it rise at room temp (75F/22C) for 45 mins or until the dough has risen 25 to 50 percent from its original height (not doubled). I use the proof in my oven for this.
5. Lightly dust the counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Pat it gently into a rectangle. Fold the dough letter style by folding down the top 1/3 of the dough, brushing off excess flour as you go. Continue to fold letter style by folding the bottom 1/3 of the dough up. Make a quarter turn, and repeat the letter fold process one more time to form a square ball. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover and let rise to 1 1/2 times its size (not quite doubled), 45 mins or more.
6. Lightly dust the counter again and turn the dough out. Cut it with a knife or bench scraper into 3 equal pieces. Pat each piece into a rectangle, brush off any excess flour, and fold the long edge toward you. Press to seal. Fold over again and seal the seam by pinching the dough together. Place both hands on the centre of the dough and rock the baguette back and forth on the counter while applying slight pressure to make the baguette about 15 inches long. Make sure the seam is well sealed, then place the baguette onto a lightly dusted with cornmeal (or flour) parchment paper lined baguette cooking tray (or a cookie sheet). Prepare the other two loaves the same way. If using the cookie sheet place the loaves as far apart on the parchment paper as possible so that you can pinch the parchment paper in-between each loaf (accordion style) bringing the loaves closer together with the pinch parchment in-between them. Dust the tops with flour and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let the loaves rise for 30 to 40 mins or until they have increased in size by about 50 percent.
7. Preheat oven to 450F. Boil 2 1/2 cups of water in a kettle. Place a rectangular cake pan or another type of high sided pan on the bottom rack to heat (do not use glass). Pour the boiling water into the cake pan.
8. Slash the tops of the baguettes with a lame, razor blade or even a sharp serrated knife. The cuts should be at an angle to the length of the loaf and parallel to each other. Place the baking sheet into the oven over the cake pan. Bake the loaves until they are golden brown, 15 to 25 mins. Turn the pan halfway through the baking.
9. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack for good air circulation.
10. Eat the baguettes within 4 hrs of baking for the best taste, or once cool, wrap in a layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 mths. Store baguettes loosely wrapped at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.
May 20, 2021 22:55