I was standing in a friend’s kitchen the first time I tried this bread. Six of us were circled around the bar, a basket of fresh loaves in the center. At the time my friend was making these baguettes to sell, but this particular batch was accidentally lacking salt (minor detail). What else could we do but take care of the poor rejects?
The problem was easily solved with a salt shaker. We’d just tear off a piece, shake on some salt, and proceed like that’s the way everybody eats bread… totally normal.
Even though our manner of eating was unconventional, the bread was still amazing and had terrific texture, and I went home that night with the recipe.
There aren’t any special ingredients; it’s just a simple French bread recipe. Flour, water, yeast, and salt.
Like most good bread, it does require a couple of risings… about 3 hours total. Bread is worth it. Remind yourself!
If kneading bread makes you nervous, I’d recommend you watch this video from The Kitchn. It clearly explains how to knead, the goal of kneading, as well as how to know when you’ve kneaded enough. It’s helped me improve my bread tremendously.
1¾ cups water, slightly warmed (about 80 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour (I made my own with a blend of all-purpose, white whole wheat, and vital wheat gluten)
2 teaspoons salt
(You can do this in a KitchenAid, but sometimes it just feels good to do it completely by hand. It’s up to you.)
Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Measure out the flour and salt in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add the flour to the water and mix with a wooden spoon until everything is incorporated.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead about 10-12 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil the mixing bowl, place the dough back in it, cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Fold the dough over on itself and let rise for 45 minutes.
Fold the dough over again. Press gently to release the gas. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball, cover with a clean towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Shape the dough into loaves by pressing each ball into a rectangle, then stretching until they’re about 8-inches long. Roll each one into a cylinder and press the seams together tightly. Place them seam side down onto the baking sheet. Cover again with the towel and let rise for one hour.
About 45 minutes into the final rise, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. When the loaves are finished rising, score each loaf with a very sharp knife. Make several diagonal cuts, only cutting through the outer layer.
Mist (or brush) each loaf with water. Place in the oven, and then mist 2 more times in the first 5 minutes of baking. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the loaves are golden. Remove and cool on wire racks.