Baguettes are great when fresh, and a really letdown when they're not. The easy solution is to bake your own baguettes and you can eat them within minutes of removing them from the oven. For anyone who has never baked bread before baguettes are one of the easiest bread recipes I've tried, so don't worry if you're a beginner. The recipe is so simple it only needs 4 ingredients.
7 cups flour (for all-purpose or bread flour, if you want to use wheat, you probably need more like 5 cups give or take)
2 1/2 cups hot water
1 1/2 Tbsp instant yeast (that's two packets of yeast)
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
Optional 5th ingredient:
Now take note that these measurements are enough for 4 decent sized baguettes. You can multiply or divide according to your needs. Keep in mind that the dough keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks (though if you want enough dough for 14 large baguettes you will need several very large containers) and the egg doesn't need to be multiplied.
Large bowl with a lid, tupperware, or large bowl and plastic wrap
metal pan or squirt bottle
Overall it's currently costs me about 50 cents per baguette, but if you buy yeast and flour in large quantities (read a 2 lb. bag of yeast and 30 lb. bag of flour) you could make them for more like 25 cents if you plan on doing this all the time.
Step 1: Dough
Pour in the yeast and salt and let sit for 5 minutes.
Now you mix in the flour and knead the dough. If the dough is so sticky you can't get it off your hands, add more flour. If it feels dry and doesn't stick at all, add a little more water.
After kneading for a few minutes, leave the dough to rise on a table or countertop for about an hour. The dough will rise to approximately double its original size and look like the picture.
Next place it in the fridge until you want to start baking.
Step 2: The Dough Rises Again
Place the dough onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lightly coated with flour. I'd recommend the baking spray, but that's just me.
Take a sharp knife and slice the baguette either lengthwise across the top (don't cut it in half, just cut deep enough to let the air vent) or several times diagonally just a few inches apart down the length of the bread. This is mostly and aesthetic choice. Also note that some people prefer to slice the baguette after it has risen for the second time which is also an acceptable method
Turn the oven on for 30 seconds to a minute and then back off, just enough so that it's warm.
Place the baguette inside the oven and wait for it to rise for 20 to 30 minutes.
If you notice that the dough has expanded outward, but not upward, then it means that you haven't put in enough flour. If you're willing to wait longer you can knead in more flour and let it rise again. On the other hand you can just accept the fact that this baguette will be flatter than most and change the next one
Step 3: Baking or Kill It With Fire
Next either get a thin metal pan, pour water on it, and place it in the oven on a lower shelf than you will place the bread, or get a squirt bottle, fill it with water and spray down the sides and bottom of the oven a couple of times during the baking process.
Place the baguette back in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.
Pull the baguette out about halfway through baking and spin the pan so that it heats evenly and...
This will give the baguette a shinier coating and adds to the flavor, but isn't necessary.
Get an egg, whisk together with water (about as much water as egg, but don't worry if you're measurement is off), and use a pastry brush to brush over the top of the loaf when you remove the pan to spin it. Don't use all of it. 1 to 3 coats should be fine. If you want your baguette to be crunchier, go with one. For a softer baguette go with 2 or 3. Leftover egg will last in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 2 or 3 days.
You probably want to let the baguette cool for 5 minutes before you eat it, but if you happen to be a badass that likes French food, eat it immediately, preferably while punching a dinosaur.