Baguettes? you may be asking. What the heck, Alex? But let me assure you that I’m bringing you a simple recipe. No barm, no starter, just a packet of dry yeast, some flour, some water, and some salt. Simple, I promise! In just a few easy steps, you’ll have two or three baguettes for some lovely sandwiches.
Homemade bread can be a process, and this will take you hours, but most of that time is inactive. I recommend, if you want to have sandwiches for lunch or dinner, to start your dough first thing in the morning. You’ll need to let it rise three times, and that will take some time. But it will be worth it, and this recipe is far less complex than most and just as tasty as you can get.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- one packet of dry yeast
- 1 Tablespoon of honey
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 cups of bread flour (or AP, if that’s what you have)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
You won’t need anything but a baking tray and a mixing bowl for this recipe. You’ll start by blooming your yeast in warm water (about 100 degrees F) with the honey mixed in. The honey will activate your yeast faster, as sugar is what it feeds on (flour makes yeast rise because it breaks down to sugar, but at a slower rate). Give it about 10 – 15 minutes.
Next, put your flour and salt into a mixing bowl and stir them together. Too much salt right on top of your yeast will kill it, so be sure they’re well mixed. If you were using a mixer, you’d put the salt in last, but you’re using your hands. Stir the flour and yeast mixture together until loosely combined. Then, add your cup of lukewarm water. You may need a little more or a little less. You want a loose, but firm dough here. Practice is the only way to get the feel of it, so you will improve with this step in time. Eventually, it should look like this (don’t overmix!):
Cover your dough in a warm, damp cloth, and let it sit for at least an hour, if not two, until doubled in size. (Side note: If your kitchen is drafty, you might just want to put your bowl in a turned off oven, used as a proofing box!)
When the dough is doubled in size, put it on a floured surface, and pat it into a rectangle. Fold the short ends 1/2 way in each, so they meet in the middle. Now flip it, turn it 90 degrees, and do this again. Put it back in the bowl, cover it, and let it rise again, until doubled in size, about 30 minutes to a hour.
When the dough is doubled, put it on a floured surface again. You’ll cut it into two or three pieces. This is where it’s important to have it shaped into a rectangle, as you’ll want long, thin pieces to start shaping.
SHAPING THE DOUGH
This is the most important and most fun part of making baguettes! The first thing you’ll do with one of your rectangles is take the bottom left corner and fold it up. Like this:
Then, you’ll start at the top left hand corner and begin folding the top of the dough down halfway, and sealing it down with your fingers, like this:
You’ll do one more fold so that the dough looks like this:
Then, using the heel of your palm, seal the bottom, pinched part. This takes a little getting used to, but you’ll have it in time, I promise. After you do that, roll the dough lightly back and forth so that you seal it completely, and the seam is on the bottom.
Last, I’m going to assume you don’t have a lame (pronounced lahm) lying around for scoring, so you’ll take a sharp knife and cut diagonal lines down the length of the loaf.
Set your oven to 450 degrees, and let the loaves rise on top of it for the amount of time it takes to warm up. Put a pan with warm water in the bottom rack of the oven. This will give your baguettes a crunchy, crispy, baguette crust. You can also put the pan in the bottom and let it get very hot, then throw ice in just before you put your baguettes in for steam.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, until golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow and be browner on the bottom when you take them out.
This is a quick-and-easy baguette recipe. For true baguettes, you need a lot more equipment and a starter and stuff that will make your life harder, not easier! Apocalycious is about comfort, though, so this is the way to shortcut all that and get yourself some delicious sandwich bread. Additionally, you can cut these baguettes on a bias once baked, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and throw them back in the oven for a few minutes for lovely toast points for snacking (if you have leftovers, I recommend trying this!) Enjoy!