Kate's Cuisine

Jul 10 2011

French Baguette

1 envelope active dry yeast $0.33
1/4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees Free!
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting    $0.66
1 cup cake flour $0.25
2 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt $0.02
1 1/4 cups cold water, plus 1 tablespoon Free
1 teaspoon olive oil $0.06

Total Cost    $1.32

1.) Combine the yeast and the warm water in a small bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve. Let stand for 3 minutes.

2.) Combine the flours and the salt in a large bowl and whisk to sift. Pour the cool water and the yeast mixture over the flour and with your hands, stir until you have a stringy mass.

3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 4 minutes, until it is resilient but not too smooth. Leave the dough on the work surface, cover lightly with a tea towel for about 20 minutes and allow to rest.

4.) Knead the dough for another 6 to 8 minutes. Don’t overwork the dough; it should be smooth, elastic, and resilient. Place a drop of olive oil in a large bowl and place the dough inside, turning to entirely coat the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until it has nearly doubled in volume.

5.) Deflate the dough by gently punching it down. Fold it over itself, reshape into a ball and cover again with a tea towel. Let it rise for another 1 1/4 hours, until it again has nearly doubled in volume.

6.) Again, gently deflate the dough by lightly punching it down. Reshape again into a round, cover again with a tea towel, and allow to rise again for another hour.

7.) Place the dough onto a very lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal pieces. Gently stretch each piece into a rectangle, trying to leave large bubbles in the dough. Fold the top portion down and the bottom portion up, just as if you were folding a letter. Form the dough into a log by rolling it from left to right, sealing the seam with the heel of your palm each time. The point is to draw the skin tight over the dough without tearing the skin or its airy structure. Set aside to rest while you repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.

8.) Turn out again onto a lightly floured work surface and elongate it by gently rolling it back and forth, moving from the middle of the dough out towards the ends. Elongate until you have the desired size.

9.) Place a piece of parchment paper on an upside-down baking sheet. Place the loaves on the parchment and cover with a tea towel; let rise for 30 to 40 minutes.

10.) Thirty minutes prior to baking time, preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place an empty pan on the bottom rack of the oven and using a very sharp knife, make 3 to 5 slashes on the top of each loaf. The cuts should be on a diagonal and not straight across, and should run from the top of the loaf to to the bottom, spaced about 1 1/2″ apart. Be careful to very gently make these slits, as you don’t want to deflate the loaves.

11.) Gently slide the baking sheet holding the loaves onto the top rack of the oven. Pour 1 cup of very hot into the empty pan and quickly close the door.

12.) Bake for 12 minutes, then lower heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes until the loaves are golden brown, crisp, and sound hollow on the inside when tapped.

13.) Move to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes.

14.) Serve and enjoy!

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