Classic French Bread Baguette

21 Apr

This recipe is the first homemade bread recipe I learned how to make. My Aunt Lori came to my house bearing gifts. She brought me my Great Grandma Effie’s bread bowl and wooden spoon, “Bake Your Own Bread”, bread towels, bread pans, all of her favorite recipes, and the key ingredients for bread baking. We spent the entire day baking bread, talking and bonding. I will never forget that day. I got to know my Aunt in a way I had never known her before. I soaked in each and every word she said, eager to learn and even more eager to get to know her better. She taught me the ins and outs and whats what of bread baking and at the same time taught me a lot about her, too. I have many Aunts, but that day I felt a closeness to her I had been longing for many years.

The bowl, book, towels, pans and her recipes brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart. The bowl and spoon had been in our family for many, many years and was given to her by my Great Grandma Effie and just knowing that as she passed it on to me, made it instantly my most prized possession. The book is old and the pages yellowed, I’ve read it cover to cover three times and still I refer to it often. I use the bread towels and bread pans each time I bake bread, which is now occurs almost daily.

Now, a year later, nothing gives me more pleasure in my kitchen then working with yeast. I have made her recipes hundreds of times, as well as tried every single bread,roll, bun, bagel recipe I can get my hands on. I make bread several times a week in our house. We don’t even purchase any bread products at the store anymore, everything is 100% homemade by me. Not only does it taste absolutely phenomenal, it also saves us a great deal of money. I’ve gotten to the point where I need to buy flour and sugar in 40lb bags! {Seriously though, I’m not kidding}! Each and every time I make something she is on my mind, and in my heart.

This recipe is perfect for beginning bread makers. Since it is the first recipe I learned how to make I feel a special closeness sharing it with you. If you make it I would love to hear from you. I always double the recipe because it freezes very well so we have one for that night and one in the freezer for a perfect side anytime we need it. You can either take the bread out of the freezer and leave at room temperature a day ahead or even a few hours ahead, or take it out when you need it and microwave it on 60% power for 2-3  minutes.

Classic French Bread Baguette

*Note: If you’d like to see step by step pictures, see my picture tutorial in Yeast 101 which also answers most FAQ and gives detailed instructions.

INGREDIENTS

1 package yeast

1 cup water

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 ¾ cup flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Measure water (between luke warm and hot to the touch) and pour into mixing bowl. Sprinkle in sugar and stir to dissolve, add yeast and let sit about 5-10 minutes or until its foamy and bubbly.
  2. Stir in salt, then flour, one cup at a time with wooden spoon.
  3. When a crumbly dough forms dump mixture out onto a clean dry counter, scraping the sides of the bowl clean. Continue mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and a ball forms. Continue adding the flour a small amount at a time, and kneading it in until the dough refuses to incorporate any more flour, or the dough no longer sticks to your hands.
  4. Continue kneading the dough until the dough becomes smooth and blistery.
  5. Wash and dry the mixing bowl and grease using a paper towel and Crisco.
  6. Place the dough into the greased bowl and cover with Ceran wrap and bread towels. Let rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  7. After dough has doubled, poke the top of the bread using two fingers, if the indents stay, the bread is ready for shaping. Gently punch the center of the dough down, and push the sides to the middle.
  8. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and set on a lightly floured counter. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough into a rectangle. Tightly roll the dough lengthwise and pinch to seal.
  9. Flip the dough over, seamside down. Using your hand push each end of the dough down to form a seal, then tuck and pinch into the bottom of the dough.
  10. Lightly sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal. Slit the top of the dough several times and place the shaped loaf on the baking sheet to rise another 60-90 minutes, covered lightly with Ceran wrap. Make sure your ceran wrap isn’t too tight or your loaf will flatten while rising.
  11. When the loaf has finished raising, bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Brush with butter immediately when the loaf comes out of the oven. Enjoy!

To make with a stand mixer:

Mix your water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer as instructed above. When proofed, add 1 cup of flour and salt to the bowl and stir to combine with the dough hook. Continue adding dough 1/2 cup at a time until dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl and is tacky, but not sticky. Knead with dough hook for 6-10 minutes, or until smooth and blistery. Continue with step 5 of the recipe.

**NOTE: This recipe also makes a fabulous thin crust pizza dough!

*Also! Since there is no fat in this recipe it doesn’t keep long. It is best the same day it’s baked, but makes great toast for the next couple days!

This is my Aunt’s recipe that I scanned when she was here. Look at her beautiful handwriting and the yellowing of the paper and stains on the paper. That’s how you know this is a great recipe!

For a printable scrapbooked version of this recipe, click here.

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12 Responses to “Classic French Bread Baguette”

  1. Paula Kelly-Bourque (@VanillaBeanBake) April 21, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

    Beautiful looking bread and your story of you and your Aunt baking together is lovely.

    • alleyo {AtHomeWithAlley} April 21, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

      Thank you Paula. This post and all attached to it holds such a special place in my heart!

  2. SarahJ April 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm #

    Beautiful loaf!

  3. Karen April 22, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    We love makng bread, tastes so much better than from the strore and the smell of it is just gorgeous as it is freshly baked 🙂

  4. Jasline April 22, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Oh it’s such a beautiful story Alley! Thanks for sharing such a delicious-looking bread recipe, will definitely try it out one day, I’m a beginner in bread-baking!

    • alleyo {AtHomeWithAlley} April 23, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      You’re welcome, and thank you! I hope you give it a try, bread making is so fun and rewarding! Good luck hun!

  5. Catalina @ Cake with Love April 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    This is a nice bread, I would love to have ne with basil and mozzarella

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