Wednesday, January 4, 2012

French Baguettes

Happy New Year!  Did you make a resolution this year?  I actually don't think I've ever made a resolution before but this year I did.  A couple of them.

This year I'd like to:
   1. Be a better family member (Mom, Wife, Sister, Daughter)
   2. Finish my thesis....this one might hurt a little

It is hard for me, now, as a Stay-at-Home Wife/Mother to even think about item #2 when item #1 is so important to me.  I want to work on my relationships with my family now that I have come to see how important family is; I guess having kids does that to a person.  And I also want to make the most out of my stay-at-home career.  I want my husband to be proud and find me to be an asset in the home and not just in the traditional workplace.

But.  Eventually I will go back to work and I am soooo clooose to my Master's degree.  It would be such a shame to waste all that time, money and effort.  So I'm going to start slow.  I'm dedicating a few hours a week, every week at the same time, to my thesis.  The rest of the week I'll be working here at home.  Working at being a better Mom, Wife, Sister and Daughter.

So all the best wives make homemade bread right? ;)  I've been making this french bread just about every week for a month or two now.  It is perfect for slicing up with soup, making sub sandwiches or crostinis, and my personal favorite use...toddler sandwiches.  Sliced at a slight bias (diagonal) you have the perfect sized bread slices for little hands to convey peanut butter, cheese, or hummus.  My boys love them.

Alex and Aaron eating one slice with red pepper hummus, one slice with peanut butter and some goldfish for good measure

This recipe makes two smallish baguettes (about a foot long each) which I like because you can freeze one loaf and thaw it when you need it so you always have some nice fresh bread.  This is seriously easy bread to make and fast too.  It only takes 2 hours start to finish which is super quick in homemade bread land.  I hope you love it!

French Baguettes, adapted from Judy Taubert at
1 cup lukewarm water (slightly warm to the touch)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour (see substitution here)
1 egg, slightly beaten

The original recipe is written for a bread machine, which I don't use for this.  If you want to use one, click on the recipe link for the easy instructions.  This bread is so simple to do without the machine, especially if you have a stand mixer.

To start, put the lukewarm water into a small glass bowl and add the yeast and sugar.  Stir it a little to dissolve the yeast and then let it set for a few minutes (5-15) until it is foamy.

Put the flour and salt into the mixer and pour in the yeast once it is ready.  Slowly turn on the mixer (fitted with the dough hook) and mix until combined.  Once it is, turn the speed up to #2 and let the machine knead the dough for about 7 minutes.  Add more flour if needed, the dough should be nice and smooth and not very sticky when done.

Now oil a large glass bowl with vegetable oil and put the dough in, turning it to coat the dough in oil too.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let it rest until it has doubled in size, only about 30 minutes.

When it has doubled, punch the dough down and then split the dough in half.  Form two 12 inch baguettes.  You can use a rolling pin or just your hands like I do.  Place the loaves on a greased sheet pan or baguette pan and then slice diagonal slashes across the tops of each loaf every few inches.  Cover the loaves and allow them to rise again for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Brush the loaves with the beaten egg and then bake them for 20 to 25 minutes.  Delicious!

My baguettes on the super cool pan I got for Christmas!

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