I love bread, and I question the sanity of anyone who claims not to be a bread person. I experimented with making my own bread a few months ago, but I bought one of those packs labeled gluten-free and I added a bunch of asiago cheese to it. Delicious? Yes. But not exactly what I was going for. I found this recipe in French Women Don't Get Fat, and I'm pleased to report that it's easy to make. If you want your loaves a bit higher, use more yeast and/or let it rise a bit. Also, if you plan on reheating, I found that dropping slices in the toaster perks the baguettes right up.
1 teapsoon active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water. Stir with fork. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Combine flour and salt.
This is what the yeast should look like after 10 minutes. Full of bubbles!
Add yeast mixture and stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups water. Mix the dough until it is sticky enough to knead.
Knead 6-10 minutes, until dough is sticky and smooth. Put dough in a bowl, cover with a damp towel. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about one hour.
Punch down the dough and divide into as many pieces as desired. Roll each into a ball and shape into a baguette (or whatever shape desired). You can also use a bread pan or baguette-shaped pan if desired. Transfer loaves to a lightly greased baking sheet, and let rise until almost doubled.
Preheat oven to 450.
Create the egg/water mixture.
Brush baguettes with egg-water mixture. If desired, score the loaves diagnolly with sharp knife.
Pour 2 cups of hot water into a pan and place in the preheated oven next to the baguettes. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 400 and bake 5-10 minutes more, until golden brown.