This recipe makes 3 baguettes, about 13 ounces each, and they're relatively fast and easy to prepare and bake. The steam from the water makes for crusty bread, excellent for soups, pasta dishes, or to use for crostini.
The simple 4-ingredient recipe makes perfect loaves every time!
The baguettes also make wonderful baked French toast or pain perdu, Cajun-style French toast.
New Orleans French Bread
- 2 cups water, 16 ounces, warmed to about 100° to 105°
- 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 5 1/2 cups bread flour (24 ounces)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Combine the water and yeast in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or standard mixing bowl; let stand for about 5 minutes.
- Add about half of the bread flour to the yeast mixture and mix with the paddle attachment for about 2 minutes, until smooth. If mixing by hand, use a whisk and mix until the batter is smooth and well blended.
- Add the remaining flour and salt and switch to the dough hook. Mix on low speed until combined, then mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes. If mixing by hand, knead on a lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add flour or water in very small amounts if the dough is too sticky or too stiff.
- Oil a large bowl with canola oil.
- With floured hands, gather the kneaded dough up into a ball. Place in the oiled bowl; turn over to oil all sides. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour. Take the dough out, fold it over on itself a few times, then put back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for another 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 3 equal portions. On a floured surface, roll each out into a rectangle. Starting at the long end, roll up to form a long baguette. Pinch seams and ends and place in a baguette pan or on parchment paper on a large baking pan.
- Place a pan of hot water on the bottom of the oven. Heat the oven to 400°.
- Cut shallow slits along the top of the baguettes before baking.
- Bake the baguettes for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
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