- Olive oil, for greasing
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g salt
- 10g/¼ oz fast-action yeast
- 370ml/13fl oz cool water
Step 1: Lightly oil a 2¼ litre square plastic container with olive oil. The square is important as it’s key to the shape.
Step 2: Mix your flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a freestanding (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Now put in three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to combine, slowly add the remaining water. Continue to mix on a medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until you have a glossy, elastic dough. If kneading by hand this will take longer but the outcome of the dough should be the same.
Step 3: Put your dough into the prepared tub. Cover this and now leave for 1 hour, or until at least doubled in size.
Step 4: Take a piece of linen couche or baking paper if you don’t have one with flour and lightly dust the work surface with flour.
Step 5: Put the dough onto the work surface. Make sure to handle it softly so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. The dough will be wet to the touch but still lively.
Step 6: Separate your dough into 4 pieces. Shape each of the 4 pieces into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Now roll each one up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with the join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavily. Concentrate on the backwards and forwards movement and gently use the weight of your arms to roll out the dough to 30cm/12in long.
Step 7: Lay a baguette on the edge of the linen couche (or baking paper) and pleat up the side against the edge of the baguette. Place another baguette next to the pleat. Repeat the process with pleats between each bread roll. The linen/paper will have a wavy shape with bread in between. Now cover this with a tea towel and leave to stand for 1 hour so your dough rises. It should be double in size and the dough springy when poked.
Step 8: Preheat the oven to 240C/220C Fan. Put in a tray so this become hot with the oven.
Step 9: When the baguettes are risen, remove them from the couche and dust lightly with flour. Slash each one 4 times along its length on the diagonal, using a sharp knife. Transfer to a large baking tray.
Step 10: Fill the heated roasting tray with hot water, to create steam, and put the bread into the oven above the tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden-brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.