This recipe will makes 3 baguettes. If you wish you may wrap any unbaked loaves in several layers of plastic wrap. Then place them in the freezer until needed.
Preparation Time: 2 hours 15 minutes approximately
Cooking Time: 20 - 25 minutes approximately
2 cups warm water not hot
1 package active dry yeast
2 Tbsps. white sugar
2 tsps. salt
5-1/2 cups bread flour approximately
1 egg white
Pre-heat oven to 375 F
In large bowl, combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir until dissolved. Let the yeast mixture rest for about 5 minutes, or until yeast is bubbly.
Mix in flour, a little at a time, until soft dough ball forms. You made need more or less flour. You want only a soft dough ball.
Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 8 minutes.
Place the kneaded dough into a large oiled bowl and rotate dough until all of it has been lightly coated in oil. Cover with damp warm cloth and let rise in warm, draft free place for about 1 hour or until double in size. I like to place it on the top of my stove as it pre-heats.
Once the dough is double in size punch it down in the bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
Now divide the baguette dough into 3 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a long narrow loaf almost as long as your baking sheet. You can make longer loaves if you place them diagonally on your baking sheet. Place loaves onto a lightly oiled baking sheet sprinkled with corn meal. I like to grind my corn meal finer in a coffee mill. This makes it not so grainy after baking. Place only 2 loaves on each baking sheet. Make 4 slits at an angle with a sharp knife. No more than 3/4 inch deep, into the top of each loaf.
Cover the baguette loaves with a warm damp cloth and let rise for 45 minutes or until double in size. I place them on the top of my stove to help keep them warm and draft free.
When the loaves are double in size mist them lightly with warm water. You may sprinkle them with herbs, cheese, or anything else you like at this time.
Bake at 375 F for 20 - 25 minutes. Half way through the baking process open the oven and mist the loaves again. This is what helps to make the crisp crust.
Remove the loaves from the oven and transfer the loaves to a cooling rack or a clean dry cloth.
Allow to cool to the touch before slicing.
Serve with your favorite pasta.
To bake the the frozen loaves remove from the freezer. Place onto a baking sheet. Cover with a warm damp cloth and allow to thaw for 1 hour. Then bake as per instructions.
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