During this month's physical distancing / lockdown, we've been going through a ton of bread. It's the easiest food to have on hand for the kids to make themselves a snack throughout the day (as long as they eat it with other things!). One day last week we weren't able to make it to our local bakery to get our daily loaf (it's literally been this way!) so I made these quick and easy baguettes for dinner. I started at 3pm to have them on the table at 7:30pm. Before you get daunted by the prospect, most of it is resting time, it will take you about 15 minutes to make these, and you don't need to knead the dough either.
¼ cup (60ml) warm water
1½ tsp active dry yeast
3¼ cups (450g) flour + more for dusting
1½ tsp salt
1-1¼ cups (240-300ml) room temperature water
1 Tbsp oil
Place the warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Without stirring, let this rest for 10 minutes while you measure out the flour and salt in a large bowl.
Now you can stir to make sure the yeast is dissolved and pour this into the flour mixture. Gradually pour the room temperature water in whilst continuously stirring, until a shaggy dough forms and there aren't any crumbly flour bits. You might not use all of the water.
Cover the bowl with a heavy pot lid and let this rest for half an hour.
On a floured countertop, gently roll the dough into a 1" (2.5 cm) thick, flat rectangle and fold into thirds. Then, at a 90 degree angle, roll and fold again into thirds.
Oil the bowl, place the folded dough in and cover with the lid. Let it rest in the oven with the light on to let rise for an hour until it doubles in size.
Prepare a baking tray lined with parchment paper and generously dusted with flour. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long skinny log about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, with tapered tips. Place each roll onto the prepared baking sheet with 1" (2.5 cm) space in between each, and dust them with flour. Cover with parchment paper and a warm, damp dish cloth. Let them rest and rise again for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and place a baking tray filled water on to the bottom shelf while preheating. This will create a steamy oven which is important for crusty loaves. (The water stays in the oven whilst baking.)
Remove the dish cloth and the top parchment paper (save this for another baking project.) Score 3 or 4 diagonal slashes into each loaf with a razor blade or cut them with kitchen scissors. Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!