with a nice crunchy crust
If you have a digital scale that measures in grams, it’s usually recommended for baking rather than use ounce/cup/measuring spoon measurements. If you don’t have a scale, a Pyrex measuring cup usually lists fluid ounce measurements. If you don’t have that either, bread dough is very forgiving so don’t worry. Just get as close as you can and I’ll tall you how to fix it if the dough is too wet or too dry.
Fixing the dough:
Too wet: gradually add more flour and continue kneading till the dough is a nice smooth consistency
Too dry: gradually add small amounts of water and continue kneading till the dough is a nice smooth consistency.
Water Temperature and yeast:
water should be slightly heated to between 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit if it’s not warm enough it won’t activate the yeast, if it’s too hot it will kill the yeast so it’s best to use a cooking thermometer for this.
Pan of water on bottom rack of oven and ice cubes:
Placing a pan on the bottom rack of the oven while pre-heating and tossing ice cubes on the floor/bottom of your oven before closing the door are both things that create steam. Steam helps the bread rise better and produces a nice crust. I’ve tried both methods by themselves and in mine, and my wife’s opinion, the crust is its best using both methods together.
- Approx. 1.75 ounces warm water (approx. 49 grams)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of active dry yeast (this is the amount in one packet if you’re using packets)
- 16 ounces (approx. 2 cups) of flour. Some people recommend bread flour but I’ve used all-purpose flour with great results. (approx. 454 grams)
- 2 teaspoons of salt (I use pink Himalayan)
- 10 ounces cool water (you may not need all of the water (approx., 283 grams)
- additional flour, for dusting.
- Pre-heat oven to 450F
- Measure the warm water then place it in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside for at least 5 minutes. It should look a little frothy once it’s ready.
- Place the bread flour into a large bowl and stir in the salt.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and stir in the dissolved (slightly frothy) yeast.
- Add the cool water, a little at a time, mixing it in, just until it forms what is known as a shaggy dough. It’s a dough that just holds together and looks like you could tear off small sheets of it. (you may not need to use all the water).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and gently press it into a rectangle and fold into thirds then turn 90 degrees and do that again.
- Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Allow it to rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Most directions usually just call for covering the dough with plastic wrap but I usually follow this by covering the whole thing with a towel or just putting in the oven with no heat.
This dough has at least doubled in size!
- Place the loaves on a floured towel, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Uncover the baguettes and transfer to lightly greased baking pan.
- Sprinkle with flour and make 4 elongated slashes down each one with a sharp knife.
- Place baking pan (with bread) on the middle rack of the oven and then toss a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven then quickly close the door.
- Bake the breads for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crusty and brown. (The baguettes should give a hollow sound when tapped.)