A few months ago I went to an enrichment meeting where we had these baguettes to snack on. They were so delicious and I knew I had to get the recipe. I was so excited to make it, and when it came out of the oven it was a huge disaster. The bread was so tough and playdough like. I was SO disappointed. I knew I needed to try making it again so I cleaned out the bowl, got my ingredients out again and started the process over. BAM, same results. I decided to hang my apron up for the day. A few months later, I decided to try the recipe one more time for a Christmas party we were having. I was disappointed once again when the dough was so dense and yucky. After a conversation I had with my dad I learned that you can kill yeast if you overheat the water. Silly me, never having made bread before, thought that if the recipe calls for very warm water then you need it to be almost boiling! No wonder why my bread wasn't rising. I just wasn't ready to give up on the recipe quite yet and last night I decided to try making it again. I carefully warmed my water to a good 109 degrees, let my yeast bubble, and proceeded with the rest of the recipe. When it came out of the oven my heart was so happy to see that it was a legit loaf of quick and crusty french baguettes. And let me tell you, it was heaven in my mouth!
QUICK AND CRUSTY FRENCH BAGUETTES
2 cups very warm water (between 90-110 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp yeast or 1 packet
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 cups flour
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes. Your yeast should start to bubble. If it doesn't your water may be to hot and killed the yeast. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky.If you have added all 6 cups of flour and its still too sticky add 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches a workable consistency. Knead the dough until elastic. Cut the dough into four even pieces. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
You can now bake the loafs right away or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven. If you want a chewy crust (Which I like) fill a large metal pan with 3-4 cups of ice. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then put the pan with ice on the bottom rack and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes or you will let the steam out. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Serve fresh and hot, or slice when cool for sandwiches, etc.