As I sit here typing this, I am also SAVORING a piece of crusty French baguette, FRESH from the oven! Bread honestly NEVER ceases to amaze me. You take 4 simple ingredients: yeast, water, flour and salt (okay and an egg mixed with a tablespoon of milk for the egg wash) and after mixing and kneading and punching and waiting and punching and waiting and then baking and waiting- you have INCREDIBLE bread! With a little patience and as little as 4 ingredients, you have this amazing delicious piece of heaven. I really suggest you try this recipe, because I'm telling you: there is nothing quite like making your own bread. It's time-consuming, but it's so satisfying to know that you can make something that you have probably bought at the store hundreds of times and maybe never given a second thought to.
(From Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast (I used instant)
- 1 2/3 cups (375 ml) water
- 3 1/2 cups (500 g) unbleached flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
(For egg wash: Whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon milk with a fork)
- Sprinkle the yeast into 1 1/2 cups (300 ml) of the water in a bowl. Leave for 5 minutes; stir to dissolve. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the dissolved yeast.
- Use a wooden spoon to draw enough of the flour into the dissolved yeast to form a soft paste. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let "sponge" until frothy and risen, 20 minutes.
- Mix in the flour and add the remaining water, as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to form a soft, sticky dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until soft, smooth, and supple, about 10 minutes. Try to avoid adding extra flour while kneading the dough.
- Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch down, re-cover, and let rise for 45 minutes longer. Punch down again, re-cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape into two baguettes, each about 12 inches in length.Place on a floured baking sheet or in a floured baguette tray; cover with a dish towel. Proof until doubled in size, about 50 minutes.
- Cut several diagonal slashes across the top. Paint on the egg wash at this point if you wish to use it, and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (I baked mine for 22 1/2 minutes), until golden and hollow sounding when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack.
So here, if this can convince you to even think about making your own bread, whatever the recipe, I will feel infinitely happy. :-)
Most Happy Baking!!