Makes 2-3 baguettes (3 smaller baguettes like on the left and right in the picture, 2 baguettes if shaping like the one in the middle)
1 cup water, heated to 110-115 degrees
2-1/2 cups bread flour (do not substitute)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 -1/2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
- Place active-dry yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the sugar to it. Warm up the water in the microwave until very warm, about 110-115 degrees (You can usually do this by dipping a pinky in the water, if it feels too hot – do not use it! It will kill the yeast. Add some cool water to it, and pour off the excess, or wait until the water cools down to very warm). Add the warm water to the sugar and yeast, and whisk everything together. Let sit 5 minutes, or until a bubble of yeast has bloomed (This just looks like a beige circle in the middle of the water, it shows that the yeast has bloomed).
- Add the salt and the flour gradually (do not add all at once), and knead until no longer sticky, about 6-8 minutes (A good way to know if bread is kneaded enough is to poke it with your finger; if it bounces back quickly, it’s ready to go). Place the bread in a large bowl that has been oiled (add about 1 tablespoon oil and spread it around with a napkin until evenly coated), cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and let the bread rise until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Once the bread has doubled in size, punch down the dough, and place it onto a large floured surface (I normally use my large cutting board). Cut the dough in half to make 2 baguettes, or into thirds to make 3 baguettes. Roll each dough piece into a rectangle, and roll up horizontally. (If you want to make a longer baguette like I did in the middle roll the dough out so the rectangle is longer, and roll it up horizontally). Place each baguette onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat or a greased cookie sheet.
- Cut diagonal slashes along the length of the dough, going about 1/2 inch deep, or make one long slash along the middle of the loaf. Cover with a kitchen towel again, and let rise for 30-45 minutes, until baguettes are almost doubled in size, and puffy.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the egg yolk and water, and brush onto the loaves with a pastry brush.
- Bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes, or until the loaves are golden brown. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then dig in!
Adapted from Allrecipes