I love fresh baguette. This recipe works well for me. It takes about three hours start to finish. For most of that time the dough is doing its own thing while I do mine.
Anyway, here are the ingredients.
- 500g white bread flour: I recommend King Arthur flour.
- 10g salt.
- 10g instant yeast. I recommend buying it in packs of 500g or so. It keeps well in the fridge in an airtight container. You can buy yeast in little packets, but it’s a lot more expensive that way.
- 370ml cool water. You may need slightly more or slightly less.
- Olive oil.
And the steps:
- Lightly oil: a 2-3 liter container, square or rectangular; and your kneading surface.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, yeast, and most of the water. Keep adding water until you have a dough that you can knead. Err on the side of wetness.
- Knead the dough on the oiled surface.
- Tip the dough into the oiled container. Cover with a damp tea towel.
- Leave for about an hour.
- Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Tip the dough onto the (re-)oiled surface. Divide it into four oblong pieces. Gently roll each piece into a bauguette-ish shape with your hands.
- Place two baguettes on each lined tray. Put the trays on top of the oven and cover with the tea towel.
- Leave for about an hour. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425 F and heat a roasting tray in the bottom.
- Lightly dust the baguettes with flour. Using a sharp knife, make three slashes in the top of each baguette.
- Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam in the oven. Put the baking trays in the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes. I’d actually check them a little earlier. When ready, they should be golden brown on top and sides; on the bottom, they will be darker, and should make a sound when knocked. I take them out at slightly different times, due to unevenness in my dough-dividing and oven.
- Cool the baguettes on a wire rack. If anyone tries to steal them, use one of the baguettes to beat them off.
The above is my version of the recipe from Paul Hollywood’s book How to Bake. I intend to donate the book the The Book Nerd, Barrington’s excellent used bookstore. I probably will use this recipe for the rest of my life, but haven’t made much use of the rest of the book, and find Paul Hollywood immensely annoying. For example, his recipe specifies the use of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Unless severe medical problems prevent you, you should knead by hand; people have been doing it for centuries, and it’s very therapeutic.
Enjoy the baking, the aroma, and the bread! Feel free to comment on how it goes for you, on any other aspect of breadmaking, or…