We have made quite a few different French Bread recipes. They all take about 3 hours to make. It is hard to find 3 hours where we are not on the go. This recipe takes about 1.5 hours start to finish. I was skeptical it would taste great because the time was cut in half, but it had great reviews so we decided to go ahead and try it.
The yeast, water and honey were added together until foamy.
While we were waiting Little Chef D measured out the flour and salt.
After foaming the salt/flour mixture was added to the yeast mixture and kneaded. We knew it was ready when we pushed in the dough and it bounced back. The dough was set in a greased bowl, covered and put in a warm place. If you don’t have a warm place you can use Alton Brown’s technique of putting a shallow pan of boiling water underneath the dough in the oven.
After 30 minutes we punched it down, divided it in two and then formed the loaves as directed. Little Chef D was super excited to learn how to do this.
Place it in a warm area to rise for a second time.
Put it in the oven to bake. To make the crust extra crispy put the loaves directly on the oven rack for 3 minutes to get an even crust at the end of baking.
Doesn’t it look delicious! It was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. We only ate one loaf the first night. We stored the second loaf in a bread bag. The next day we ate it and loved it just as much. Little Chef A said it wasn’t quite like the stores the second day because it didn’t have a crunchy crust. I told her it was because we stored it in a plastic bag. We will definitely be making this recipe again! Little Chef D was SO proud SHE made this amazing bread! Hearing that always makes cooking with my kids worth it!
Homemade French Baguettes
2 envelopes dry active yeast (1 1/2 Tablespoons)
2 tablespoons honey
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons salt
Canola oil, for greasing bowl
Cornmeal, for dusting pan
3 to 4 ice cubes
Serving suggestions: ricotta cheese and acacia honey
Combine the honey, yeast and 1/2 cup warm water. Stir to combine and let the mixture stand until the yeast is activated and begins to foam, 5 minutes.
Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook and slowly add the yeast mixture. Gradually add 1 cup warm water and mix until the dough comes together into a ball that is not too wet (you may not need all the water ). If the dough is sticky, add a little bit more flour. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 2 to 6 minutes. You can do the thumbprint test: press in the dough with your thumb and it should bounce back when it’s ready.
Form the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a dishcloth, so it doesn’t dry out. Let rest in a warm environment until doubled in size, 25 to 30 minutes.
Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Shape into 2 baguettes by making a flat rectangle out of your dough, then folding the top and bottom towards the middle, like an envelope and seling the seam with your fingers. Keep repeating the folding and sealing, stretching the rectangle lengthwise as you go, until it’s about 12 to 14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Fold and seal either end to round. Flip seam-side down and place on a sheet pan or baguette pan that has been dusted with cornmeal. Score the tops of the loaves, making deep diagonal slits 1/2-inch deep, cover with a dishcloth and let rise in a warm environment until they have doubled in size, 25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and position your oven racks with one on the bottom and the other in the middle. Place an oven-safe (non-glass) bowl or pan on the bottom rack.
When your bread has doubled for the second time, remove the towel and quickly and simultaneously, slide the sheet tray with the baguettes onto the middle rack while carefully throwing the ice cubes into the bowl on the bottom rack. The ice will create a burst of steam that will give you a nice crispy crust. Quickly shut the oven door so no steam escapes. Bake the baguettes until golden brown, 15 minutes.
Cooks Note: If you have a glass window on your oven, place a towel over it when throwing the ice in, hot glass can shatter if ice touches it.