Don't be intimidated by French bread; here's the perfect loaf.
65 minPrep: 35 minCook: 30 min
Serves: 15Save Share
1 3/4 cup room temperature water (68F to 76F)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 cup bread flour
2 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for dusting
Combine water and yeast in a bowl and stir until yeast is completely dissolved. Add flour and salt and mix with a dough hook on low speed to incorporate ingredients. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, 10 to 12 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Scrape dough onto a wooden board. Fold over dough gently. Return to bowl. Let rise 45 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Fold dough over again, pressing gently to release gas. Cut into 2 equal pieces.
Round each piece into a smooth ball, pinching seams together at the bottom. Cover dough and let rest, seam side down, 30 minutes.
Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal. To shape baguettes, press each ball of dough into a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Holding the short edges of the rectangle, lift and stretch the dough until it is about 8 inches long. Fold one long edge of dough toward the center, pressing seam with fingertips. Fold again, in half lengthwise, using the heel of your hand to seal the edges. Roll dough under your palms into a cylinder about 18 inches long. Move your hands outward from the center of the cylinder and slightly increase the pressure as you move outward, until both ends have an even gentle taper.
Transfer dough, seam side down to the baking sheet. Cover loaves and let rise until increased in volume by three-quarters, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 425F. Score each loaf 5 to 7 times by making diagonal slashes through the outer layer of dough with a thin blade. Just before baking, brush or mist each baguette lightly with water.
Bake about 30 minutes. During the first 5 minutes of baking, brush or mist bread 1 or 2 more times with water. Loaves are done when golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove loaves from oven and let cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.