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I fell in love with French food when my husband and I moved to Paris. I was never disappointed in meals or snacks at restaurants or cafés but our favorite places were the patisseries, bakeries, where we bought amazing desserts and, of course, the very French Baguettes. I bought one each morning, warm from the oven, placing it in my panier, a woven straw basket, to bring back to our apartment in the Latin Quarter. Below is a classic Baguette recipe. Make the traditional long loaves, make into rounds or into rolls. Slash the tops before baking, as you see in the photos, and enjoy the crunchy exterior and very soft insides. C'est si bon!
Leaving her husband and dysfunctional marriage, Isa packs suitcases with her belongings and heads for France, her grandmother’s birthplace. “In a separate bag, she carried her laptop, electronic reader and two of her most cherished books, Pride and Prejudice and Somewhere in Time.” Isa hopes for true romance and magical across time relationships. And she is not disappointed ….She would fix her broken life.”
Author Jerri Schlenker (pronounced Jera), travels along with her characters. “I write a lot of my experiences into my characters. I don’t think I’ve ever written a book that doesn’t have a spiritual component. Writing is a part of my spiritual journey.”
Yield 2 medium loaves
1 package yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
1 cup gluten or bread flour
3 cups all-purpose flour in warm water.
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil to coat bread
1 egg white with 1 teaspoon cold water
Dissolve yeast. Stir gently and wait for yeast to bubble slightly.
Add salt and sugar. Blend in 1 cup of gluten flour. Add enough all-purpose flour to make a sticky dough.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as dough becomes sticky. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.
Add the oil to the bowl. Place the dough back in the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and place in a draft free location. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down until the dough is deflated and turn back out onto the floured surface. Knead for a few moments, then divide dough into 2 pieces and shape into baguettes, pinching ends together with your fingers. Dip your fingers in room temperature water if dough doesn’t stick together. Cover the dough and let rise about 40-50 minutes. Preheat oven to 400F.
After dough has risen, with a sharp knife, slice 2-3 diagonal lines into the dough, about ¼” deep. Brush with egg white mixture.
On the bottom of the oven, place a pan of water in an oven proof pan. Place loaves on a cornmeal dusted pan or on parchment lined pan.
Bake the loaves on a rack in the middle of the oven until crusty and golden brown, about 50-55 minutes. With a water sprayer, spray oven with a few spritzes of water midway through the baking. This helps make the crust nice and crusty. If bread appears pale, bake another 5 minutes. The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when gently wrapped with your knuckles.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Wrap in a cloth to keep fresh—best not to refrigerate. Bread will last 2-3 days.
To freeze: Bring loaves to room temperature. Wrap each loaf in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil, making sure all the surfaces of the bread are covered. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Country French Bread: Use 3 cups white whole wheat flour in place of white flour.
Make rolls: Follow recipe until you divide the dough into 2 pieces. Divide each piece into 8-9 pieces. Make into mini baguette shapes, tie in a knot or shape into little round loaves. Let rise until double. Place on parchment lined baking pan sprinkled with cornmeal. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light brown.