French Baguettes. Sounds really hard to make doesn't it? I thought they would be when I first decided to try making them. Maybe mine were easy because it's not a traditional recipe? I've no idea. I know the recipe I use makes an awesome bread and that's the main thing right?
In the original recipe it calls for brushing the loaves with an egg yolk wash before baking and putting water in the bottom of the stove to create steam. Apparently this makes for a very good crust. Usually I do the egg yolk wash, but I have never bothered with the steam. Just brushing the yolk on the bread seems to give it a nice crusty crust. However this time I didn't even bother with doing that. I just rubbed a bit of flour over the loaves, let rise and bake. I really liked the texture for the sandwiches we used the bread for. I think if I was going to use the bread for bruschetta or on French Onion Soup I would definitely at least use the egg yolk on the bread before baking.
I did view 2 really helpful videos when it came to pre-shaping and shaping the bread. I'll share both of those videos with you here.
Here is the recipe that I used to make my baguettes. This recipe uses the bread machine but if you don't have a bread machine just follow the traditional way to make bread (proof yeast in water & sugar, mix in flour and salt, knead ect.).
Original recipe can be found here
1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough cycle, and press Start.
When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched. Punch down dough and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Cut dough in half. Shape each half (gently)into a square fold in thirds and tighten (watch video 1 for detailed instructions). Set aside and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Watch video 2 for shaping the baguette.
Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.