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It took me forever to figure out how to make them well. Most recipes I tried tasted like regular old rolls, not chewy or bubbly on the inside, not crusty on the outside, totally lacking the beautiful and delicious caramelization of a good baguette.
What’s maddening is how many recipes will tell you how to make the dough, and then “yada yada yada” the most difficult part – forming and raising the loaves!
I’ve tried so many different methods over the past year and finally cobbled together one that works for me every time, and I’m almost ready to share it with you. I’m editing the videos now, but I wanted to give you a heads up on what equipment you should think about getting. You don’t technically need any of it, but it can make the process easier, and anyway I’m all about the stuff.
I make this dough with a Cuisinart stand mixer and a dough hook (I hear good things about Kitchen Aid mixers too), but since this recipe requires very little kneading, it’s easier to do without a mixer than a lot of other breads.
You urge you to get a baguette pan (or a slightly larger French loaf pan). This is what I recommend for the easiest, best loaves. After trying so many different methods, this one turned out to be the least-stressful one with the best results, and very little mess – the loaves do their final rise in the pan and then go right into the oven. So easy! These pans are not expensive and unless you’re having the Von Trapps and the Brady Bunch over for dinner at the same time, you only need one. If you have Amazon Prime, order these today and you’ll have them in time for baking early next week!!
You’ll also need parchment paper to line the pan. You can do it with a roll of parchment paper cut to size, but I like these pre-cut parchment sheets because they’re delivered flat and won’t curl up when you’re trying to put your dough on them.
You’ll need some kind of metal baking pan with high sides (not a baking sheet – too shallow) to steam your oven. You do NOT want to use a glass pan for this. Any old 8x8x2 or 9x9x2 or 13x9x2 or even a metal bread loaf pan will work. I have an old brownie pan that gets rusty easily because I used a metal knife in it too many times, so I don’t use it for baking anymore, I just use it for this.
A bread lame is not really necessary, but it makes scoring your bread a lot easier (and it’s cheap). In lieu of a lame you’ll need a very sharp knife.
There are very few ingredients involved, but if you don’t bake a lot you might be missing a couple of them.
You’ll need Bread Flour, available at regular grocery stores. You’ll also need Instant Yeast. Trust me, you want to start using this instead of old-fashioned Active Dry Yeast. You get to skip the step of “activating” the yeast in a bowl of wam water – you just mix the instant stuff in with the dry ingredients!
Salt and olive oil (or olive oil spray) you probably have.
And stock up on some butter too. :-)