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Baguette Braided Loaf (or not braided!)
From Dorothy McNett's recipes at www.dorothymcnett.com. One of many many recipes from Paris for making tasty and wonderful bread. Not many ingredients required, but it does require some time!
1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Stir the yeast into the warm water and set aside while you measure out the flour and salt into a batter bowl. Stir the dissolved yeast and warm water into the flour mixture. Dump out onto your work surface and hand knead for about 10 minutes. (Or you can use your electric mixer with a dough hook to do the kneading) When the dough is smooth and elastic, shape it into a ball. Place it in a bowl and cover loosely with a clean dry towel. Place in a warm draft-free place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size. Punch the dough down and divide into 3 equal parts. Shape each part into a long roll and with the heels of your hands (not poking with your fingers) roll and stretch them into long strips. Line a flat baking sheet with a silicone mat or lightly grease it with some butter. Braid the strips of dough, tucking and shaping as you go. Or simply shape the 3 into long loaves. Pinch each end tightly together and tuck under the loaf so that it will not unroll while baking. Cover loosely again with the towel. Place in a warm draft free place to rise, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a small metal pan filled with hot water in the bottom of the oven to give a moist baking environment. Place the bread in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan of hot water. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake about 25 minutes more or until nicely browned and bread tests done with tapped with your finger. Allow to cool on a rack and then serve!
Recipe created 2014-06-16.