crispy french bread

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons agave (or honey)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • canola oil (or vegetable oil) for greasing bowl
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes (used to create a burst of steam that will give you crispy crust when baking the bread)
  • 2 envelopes dry active yeast (1.5 tablespoons)

Making the dough:

  1. Combine the agave, yeast, and 1/2 cup warm water to a medium size bowl. Stir and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl with a dough hook. Gradually add in the yeast mixture and add 1 cup of warm water.
  3. Mix until the dough comes together and is not too wet. If it seems sticky, go ahead add a little bit more flour. If you are using a dough hook with the kitchen aid mixer, it takes about 5-8 minutes with the dough hook to form into a ball.
  4. Once the dough forms into a ball, turn it onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. This should take 3-5 minutes. I ended up not adding  flour to the surface when kneading the dough since it was not sticky.
  5. Once you can press the dough with your thumb and it rises back (thumbprint test), you are finished kneading the dough.
  6. Let the ball of dough rise for 25 minutes in a lightly-oiled bowl. Make sure it is covered with a paper towel or dishcloth.
  7. Punch down the dough and divide it in half. Shape into 2 long baguettes by making a flat rectangle out of the dough. I did one at a time and left the other half of the dough in the bowl.
  8. Fold the top and bottom towards the middle, like an envelope. Keep repeating the folding and sealing for 5 minutes, until the dough is about 12-14 inches long and 2 inches wide. IMG_8592
  9. Once it is about12-14 inches long, fold and seal either end to round. Flip seam-side down and place on baking sheet. You will only be able to fit one baguette per sheet so you will need two.
  10. Score the tops of loaves, making deep diagonal slits, cover with a paper towel for 25 minutes to let them rise for the last time (last time, I promise).
  11. While you are waiting for the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  12. Once the bread has doubled size for the second time, remove the paper towel and simultaneously slide the baguette  in the oven onto the middle rack while carefully placing the ice cubes into a oven-safe bowl on the bottom rack. Quickly shut the oven door so no steam escapes.
  13. Bake the baguettes until golden brown, 15 minutes.

Makes 2 large baguettes that are delicious with just about anything or all by itself!

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Original recipe found here

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