Monday, September 17, 2012

French Baguettes

I always forget how easy and inexpensive it is to make bread from scratch.  The only problem is that it requires several hours of waiting around.  I like to make bread recipes that require as little work as possible, allowing me to lounge around as much as possible while I am waiting for the fresh-baked masterpiece to finish.  This recipe is pretty difficult to mess up, which is great for me, since I have definitely had a fare share of bread-making mishaps.  One thing I should emphasize is allowing plenty of time for the dough to rest before baking.  I was in a rush and only gave it 30 minutes (skipped the second rest period).  The bread came out good, but was a little dense for my liking - which I believe could have been reversed had I allowed more time to rest and rise before sticking the two loaves in the oven.

This recipe was adapted from an Allrecipes recipe with extremely high ratings.  I used a bread machine's dough cycle for the prep work, but you can also make this the old-fashioned way!

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons rapidrise yeast
1 egg

Add the ingredients to your bread pan in the order listed above (except for the egg yolk) and select the "Dough Cycle."  When the dough cycle completes, remove the dough from the bread pan, punch it down, and put it in a greased bowl.  Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.  Punch it down again and cut it in half.  Then on a lightly floured surface, roll the two balls of dough into baguette shapes.  Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover it, and let it rise for another 40 minutes until it doubles in bulk again.  Cut slashes about every two inches across the loaf.  Then brush the beaten egg along the top of each loaf.  Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let it rest and cool for at least 30 minutes after baking.

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