Homemade french bread is the best! Each baguette is crunchy on the outside with a soft, chewy texture on the inside.
3 C warm water
1 Tb sugar
2 Tb yeast
2 Tb canola oil
3 1/2 rounded tsp salt
7 -8 C bread flour (yes, it makes a difference)
1. Using your electric mixer with a dough hook, mix the water, sugar, yeast and 2 cups of flour into the bowl. Allow to sit until yeast activates and begins to bubble. Add oil and salt.
2. Slowly mix in remaining flour. You want the dough to just barely pull off the sides of your bowl once the flour in fully incorporated. It should still be a soft dough. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
3. Remove dough hook and form dough into a ball inside the bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double, about one hour.
4. Gently turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into four equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a general triangular shape. Starting on the small point, roll and seal your way across the triangle until you have a small log. Roll the log on the counter to stretch your baguette to the proper length, keeping the thickness uniform across the loaf.
5. Place dough into greased french bread pan, slit the top with a sharp knife and brush with an egg wash if desired. Allow to rise about 15-20 minutes.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. The bread is completely baked at this point and can be cooled on racks. When it is time to serve, I prefer to place the loaves on the oven racks and bake them for an additional 5-7 minutes. This heats the bread and creates that great crust while keeping the interior soft and chewy. In my opinion, this last step makes all the difference.
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