Have you ever needed some bread at the last minute to go with a meal? We do, all the time! Every recipe I have needs more then an hour from start to finish. I had the opportunity to watch the Food Nanny in person make her French Baguettes and thought, “My Little Chefs can do that!” This recipe from start to finish can be done in one hour or less! When the Food Nanny demonstrated this recipe she did not use any machine. She said when she goes into the homes of families she always teaches them how to make this using only a bowl, spoon and your own hands. If you notice only 3 1/4 cups of flour are used so it isn’t going to be a huge ball of dough hard to control for a beginner. Now to see if my Little Chefs can do it! Little Chef D and A tag teamed for this recipe.
First the water, yeast and sugar were mixed together to foam. During the wait the flour, sugar and salt were mixed together in a separate bowl.
Once the yeast has had a chance to foam the wet ingredients were added to the dry. Using a wooden spoon Little Chef D tried her best to mix everything together. This was a difficult task for her to do so this is when she tag teamed with Little Chef A.
After a little more mixing Little Chef A turned the dough out onto a cutting board to knead. We talked about kneading with her palms and not with her fingers. She understood she needed to incorporate more flour when the dough was sticky. She did not need to add more flour then was originally in the bowl.
Now it was time to form the loaves. Normally I would have liked each loaf to be perfectly formed, but when observing the Food Nanny perfectly formed loaves were not a concern. I followed that lead and let Little Chef A form the loaf as she wished because there was no right or wrong way. I showed her how long the loaf needed to be and off she went.
We let the dough rest under a dish towel for 30 minutes. Doesn’t it look great! It was then put in a preheated oven for 15 minutes with a bowl of water on the bottom rack to create the crust.
The result: We all LOVED this recipe! We loved that it was quick. We loved that little hands can learn to work the dough in this quantity. We loved the contrast of the crusty crust and the soft interior. We only had one half loaf leftover which sadly is not enough for another meal, but luckily this recipe is easy enough to make it again tomorrow. This is a winner in our house for sure!
French Baguettes (p. 225)
Yield: 2 baguettes
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 T. active dry yeast, (2 packets)
2 tsp sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
WHAT YOU’LL DO
- In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of the warm water, the yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar. Stir to combine and let mixture stand for about 5 minutes or until foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl blend the flour, salt, the remaining teaspoon of sugar and the yeast mixture.
- Gradually add remaining water and mix until the dough forms a smooth ball that is not too sticky to handle (if it is too sticky add a little more flour).
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut the dough in half and shape the halves into baguettes.
- Grease a baguette pan and place the loaves in the pan.
- Score the loaves down the middle, cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.
- Bake the baguettes for 15 minutes. If desired brush the tops with melted butter halfway through the baking.
*For a softer crust, brush with butter when they have finished baking.