I developed this crusty baguette recipe in response to an overwhelming demand for good bread that is crunchy on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. Something that folks would be proud to take to a friend’s house to share at dinner, but that isn’t so difficult that no one has the time or inclination to do it!
The Gluten-Free Recipe Box
I did lots of homework on French Bread and found that the traditional method actually only has 5 ingredients: water, yeast, sugar, salt and flour. That sounded easy enough, but how does it get so crunchy without over-cooking the middle? Again, the trick sounded simple: humidity. Professional bakers have special misting ovens that create constant humidity. Mimicking this effect in my home oven didn’t actually turn out to be too difficult; I simply spritzed the bread before baking and placed an oven-proof bowl with water in the oven while the bread baked. The end result was perfection. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to smell, touch … taste that unmistakably crunchy French Bread again. Actually, I don’t have to try to tell you about it – you can make it for yourself!
Before you start thinking this recipe is too hard, or that it couldn’t possibly be that good, The Gluten-Free Recipe Box reported that this baguette recipe made “the best gluten-free bread I have ever had!”
(This recipe can be easily doubled to make two baguettes.)
- 1 1/4 cup very warm water
- 2 1/4 tsp rapid rise yeast (1 packet)
- 1 tsp. granulated cane sugar
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 2 1/4 cups Jules Gluten Free™ All-Purpose Flour
- milk (dairy or non-dairy) or mixed egg wash for brushing on uncooked loaf (the milk will help to brown the loaf; an egg stirred with a tablespoon of water will make the loaf shiny and lightly browned)
- corn meal
Prepare a proofing area where your loaf will rise; a good option is to preheat your oven to 200° F, then turn it off immediately before putting in the loaf to rise.
If you have a baguette pan, line it with foil, spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle corn meal along the bottom of the pan. If using a cookie sheet instead, line with foil, spray with oil and sprinkle with corn meal, then line up two dowels or other forms three inches apart to help keep the bread in a long thin shape while it’s rising and cooking; wrap these dowels with aluminum foil and spray with cooking oil.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, yeast and very warm water and set aside to proof for 5 minutes (if, after 5 minutes, the yeast is not bubbling, throw it out and start again with fresh yeast).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the Jules Gluten Free™ All Purpose Flour and salt. With a beater blade or dough hook on your mixer, slowly work in the yeast mixture with the flour and salt. Once fully integrated, beat an additional 2 minutes on medium-high. The dough will be very wet at this point.
Scoop the dough into a gallon size zip-top bag and cut 1-2 inches from a bottom corner of the bag. Like a pastry bag, squeeze the bag to remove the air, then squeeze the dough through the cut hole to form one long loaf in your prepared baguette pan or in between your prepared dowels on the foil-lined cookie sheet.
Gently brush the milk or mixed egg wash all over the exposed areas of the loaf with a pastry brush. Cover the loaf with wax paper sprayed with cooking spray and set it in your warmed oven or other proofing spot for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 410° F and place a baking pan with water into the oven. Leave this pan in the oven during the baking process as well – the humidity created by this heated water will help the bread to form an extra crunchy crust.
Once risen, uncover the baguette and make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts into the dough with a serrated knife, cutting approximately 1/4 inch deep. If you have a clean spray bottle, fill it with water and spritz the bread with water before baking.
Bake for 20 minutes and brush the top of the bread with milk or egg wash again, then bake for 20 minutes more, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean and the internal temperature of the bread is 205°-210° F.
Cool on a wire rack, removed from the pan, until ready to serve.
(*Note: this recipe makes one long baguette or two small/medium-sized baguettes).