Is there anything that smells as good as homemade bread baking in the oven? Whether it’s honey oatmeal sandwich bread or cinnamon rolls, pumpernickel rye or olive bread—it all smells divine!
Making your own bread from scratch is healthier, cheaper, more delicious, and WAY easier than the Pillsbury Doughboy would like you to believe! Instead of paying $4 or $5 for one loaf of chewy, golden bread, you can make two for less than $1. And if you need a hostess gift, everyone loves receiving homemade bread. Wrap it up in parchment or waxed paper and tie a string or a length of yarn around it, and people will sing your praises.
Today we’re featuring a recipe for Easy French baguettes that Joe has made several times with great success. First, you have to understand that the only previous experience Joe had with bread baking was walking past the kitchen and glancing over at me while I made it. But, one day while I was out, he found the following recipe in a magazine and decided that it looked easy enough to make for dinner that night. Well, when we had dinner that night I was really impressed; he hit it right out of the park on his first try! Easy French Baguette recipe is a winner.
This bread is easy to make, a perfect accompaniment to pasta, soup, or salad, and it makes great submarine sandwiches. This recipe goes from start to finish in three hours or less; it makes two baguettes, so you can have one for dinner tonight then put the other one in your freezer to take out and thaw anytime. Serve with dipping oil or make garlic bread with any leftovers.
You can do the kneading right in the bowl if you’re making the bread by hand and your bowl is big enough. I used to do that when we lived on the boat and had limited counter space. And, you may notice that I specify oiling or flouring the counter when you work with the dough. That’s because I prefer to wipe up a light coating of oil when I’m done, whereas Joe enjoys throwing a little flour around. 😉 Either method works, so use the one you like.
If you’ve had any previous experience making baguettes or boules, you may be surprised that the recipe has you slash the bread before it rises, instead of just before it’s baked. This is typical of some French bread recipes. However, if you forget to do it before the final rise, go ahead and do it just before you apply the topping.
Easy French Baguette
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water (100ºF)
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 egg yolk , beaten
- 1 teaspoon water
- Combine the yeast, water, and sugar in a small bowl and allow to proof for 5 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, mix the bread flour and salt in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Add the proofed yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until well combined, then knead the dough right in the bowl, or turn it out onto a lightly oiled or floured counter and knead for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it's smooth and bouncy.
- If using a stand mixer, mix with the flat beater, then switch to the dough hook and knead for 8 minutes on speed 2.
- Place the dough in an oiled container, turning it to cover all surfaces.
- Cover it with a clean dish towel and let it rise at room temperature about 30 to 45 minutes, or until it has doubled.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled or floured counter, and flatten it into a rectangle 12" by 16".
- Divide it in half--making two rectangles 12" by 8".
- Starting with one rectangle and beginning on a 12" side, roll it tightly, pinching the dough together to form a seam when you reach the end.
- Then roll the dough over with that seam side down, and gently roll it back and forth, using your hands to taper the ends.
- Repeat with the other portion of dough.
- Place the baguettes on a large parchment lined or greased cookie sheet and make deep diagonal slashes with a very sharp knife every 2 or 3 inches along the length of the loaf.
- Lightly cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and allow to rise at room temperature until double, about 1 hour, but start preheating your oven to 375ºF after about 30 minutes.
- When the loaves are ready to bake, beat the egg yolk and water together with a fork, and gently brush the mixture all over the risen loaves.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 190ºF to 200ºF when inserted into the middle of the loaves.
- Turn out onto a rack and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before cutting.
- To freeze, cool the bread completely, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap followed by foil.
Your family and friends will love it! Bake yourself an Easy French Baguette!