active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons salt
Melted butter, for brushing on
loaves (optional)/2 cups warm (105-115 degrees)/2 tablespoons (2 packets)/4 cups all-purpose
In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the water, the yeast, and 1 teaspoon of
the sugar. Stir just to combine and cover with plastic wrap or a plate. Let the
mixture stand about 5 minutes or until bubbly or foamy.
2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer or food processor,
blend the flour, salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar, and the yeast mixture.
Gradually add water, up to the remaining 1 cup, and mix until the
dough forms a smooth ball that is not too sticky to handle. (If the dough
ends up too sticky, add a little more flour.) Turn the dough onto a floured
surface and knead briefly, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
3. Cut the dough in half and shape the halves into baguettes. Grease a
baguette pan (available at kitchen stores) and place the loaves in the pan.
Score the loaves down the middle (make a shallow cut-see the photo on
p. 217), cover with a dish towel, and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes,
or until doubled in bulk.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven
to 450 degrees and place a
shallow pan of water in the
bottom of the oven to create
steam (see the beginning of
the chapter). Bake the
baguettes for 15 minutes or
until they have a hollow sound
when tapped with a knife. If
desired, brush the tops of the
loaves with butter halfway
through baking. For a softer
crust, brush with butter when
they have finished baking.