By Carmen Gillespie
Have you been having the exciting adventure that is the grocery store in these crazy days of pandemic? I have played the game of “Will there be toilet paper and bread?” with varying success.
While I can’t help you in the TP department, I can share a recipe for some lovely baguette bread that you can bake in a little over an hour!
What You’ll Need:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of dry yeast
- A teaspoon of sugar
- A measuring cup with 1 1/2 cups of warm water (teetering on nearly too hot to keep your finger in it for very long, but not boiling.)
- 3 1/4 cups, plus another 1/4 cup, of flour
- And about 2 teaspoons of salt
- One baking sheet
- A little bit of butter to grease it
- A spoon to mix with, though you could just use your hands
- Another oven-safe container partly full of water
- And a rack to cool the bread on.
This recipe is so easy that even I can do this, and I’m no expert baker by far!
This is a small contribution towards feeding the world, even if it hasn’t got much to do with home gardening, unless you’ve grown and harvested your own grain.
And what I’ve learned is that bread can be pretty simple, and sometimes the simplest things are the yummiest!
Got it all together? So here we go!
How to Make the Bread:
First, wash your hands! (You know that drill by now!)
Start by taking your baking sheet and rubbing some butter on it so it’s ready to go.
Like, just take the stick and draw a thin layer of butter where the bread will sit, and put the sheet aside for now.
Then take that 1 1/2 cups of really-warm water.
Mix in the sugar and the yeast. (I usually just use the measuring cup I put the water in.)
Let that sit for 5 minutes.
The yeast feeds on the sugar and bubbles up foamy. It’s supposed to do that.
Meanwhile, put the 3 1/4 cups of flour into a medium-large bowl.
Add the salt and mix it in.
(You’re saving that extra 1/4 of a cup in case you need to add more to the mix, and flour your hands and countertop or cutting board so the dough doesn’t stick.)
Then, after that 5 minutes, add the yeast mixture, about a quarter of it at a time, to the flour mix, working it together until you’ve got a fairly smooth, not-entirely-sticky ball.
Add a little bit more flour from your 1/4 cup that’s set aside if it’s really gooey.
Kneading and Rolling…
Knead that ball for a few more minutes.
Then, divide the ball into two or three smaller balls, depending on how big you want your loaves.
Sprinkle a bit more of that extra flour onto your countertop or cutting board to keep the dough from sticking to it.
Squish each ball out fairly flat (you can use a rolling pin or just your hands). Then, roll them each up into a tube to make a baguette shape, trying not to trap any big air bubbles in there.
Pinch the seams shut, and put those onto the baking sheet that you prepped at the beginning, seam-sides down!
Put it in a warm place and cover with a clean dish towel. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes to rise.
*Tip: When you wash your hands from the dough, wipe off as much as you can into the garbage first. Rinsing chunks of dough down your drain with warm water will just make it expand and clog your pipes.
After 30 minutes have passed, preheat your oven to 450F.
Prepping Your Loaves
Then, take the towel off the bread, go ahead and make a few shallow cuts across the tops of the bread if you want it to look fancy, and pop it onto the middle rack.
Then take that extra oven-safe container, fill it halfway with cool water, and put it on your oven’s bottom rack. The moisture helps keep the bottom of the bread from getting too hard.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the bread is a delicious golden brown. Then take it out of the oven and put it on a rack to cool!
Don’t forget to take that extra container out of the oven after it’s cool enough to move.
And voila! Bread in about an hour!
Stay safe, be smart, eat well, and look after each other!
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