Bakery-Style French Baguettes
Published March 1, 2000.
Makes two 15- by 3-inch baguettes
For this recipe you will need an instant-read thermometer, a scale, a lame or a single edge razor blade, a rectangular pizza stone, and a spray bottle filled with water. We prefer SAF instant or Perfect Rise yeast, but other instant dry yeasts work as well. For the sponge, the ideal ambient temperature is 75 degrees; if it is cooler, fermentation will take longer. This recipe will yield baguettes for breakfast; the related version uses altered rising times so that the baguettes are baked in time for dinner. In either case, begin the recipe the day before you intend to serve the bread; the baguettes will emerge from the oven 20 to 24 hours after you start the sponge. Do not add flour while kneading or shaping the dough. The baguettes are best served within 2 hours after baking.