Yield: three (two) 15" baguettes.
- ½ c. cool water (1/3c.)
- 1 c. (4¼ oz) All-Purpose Flour (2/3 c., 2.83 oz.)
- 1/8 tsp instant yeast
- 3½ c. (14¾ oz.) flour (2 1/3 c., 9.83 oz.)
- 1 c. lukewarm water (2/3 c.)
- 1½ tsp. salt (1 tsp.)
- ¼ tsp. instant yeast
Mix the starter ingredients till smooth, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
The next day, mix the starter with the remaining ingredients, kneading until the dough is nice and springy, but not totally smooth. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 3 hours, gently deflating and turning it over after one hour, and again after two hours.
Divide the dough into three pieces, and shape each piece into a rough oval. Wait 15 minutes, then fold each oval lengthwise, sealing the edge, and use cupped fingers to gently roll each piece into a long (about 15") log.
Peace the loaves into a lightly greased French baguette pan, cover, and let them rise until they're puffy but not doubled, about 2 to 2½ hours.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425º. Very gently, use a sharp knife or a razor blade to make three diagonal slashes, 1/3" deep in each loaf.
Mist the loaves heavily with warm water. Bake the baguettes for 22 to 28 minutes, until they're golden brown. Take the baguettes off the pan and place them right on the oven rack. Turn off the oven, crack the door open about 2", and then the baguettes cool completely in the oven.
Notes: My pan (and mom's) only make two loaves, hence the conversions in parentheses. I only had active dry yeast, not instant, so I double the amounts and dissolved it in water (always using warm water) before continuing. I was really pleased with the results.