In a large bowl, stir together
Water (1 1/2 cups)
Active Dry Yeast (1 tsp)
and allow to ferment for about 10 minutes until foamy.
All-Purpose Flour (2 3/4 cups)
and stir until moisture is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.
Flour your work surface with a sprinkle of the remaining
All-Purpose Flour (1/4 cup)
. Dump out dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with
Kosher Salt (1/2 Tbsp)
and a tablespoon of flour to knead the dough without it being too sticky.
Continue kneading the dough and adding flour by the tablespoon until dough is smooth but still a little tacky, about 8 minutes. Using a bench scraper to lift the dough off the counter helps until it becomes less sticky. The exact amount of flour is dependant on your working conditions and existing moisture in the flour you are using.
Place dough in a large bowl lightly coated with
Neutral Oil (1 tsp)
. Cover with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Remove dough to your work surface and, using your fingers, push and spread dough to remove air pockets and to shape into an approximate 8 by 6-inch rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough into the center and then fold the top and bottom into the center. Place the folded dough back into the bowl, seam side down. Cover and allow to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Place a heatproof pan or cast-iron skillet on the rack below your center baking rack. If using a baking stone, place it in the oven to preheat as well.
Divide dough into 3 equal portions and roll each into an approximate 14-inch log. Allowing the dough to rest for 60-second pauses between rolling will help the dough relax and hold its shape when rolled. Place shaped logs onto a baguette pan if you have one.
Alternatively, you can lay logs onto lightly floured parchment that sits on a rimless baking tray. Leave enough space between the logs to pinch the parchment and lift up, creating pleats between the logs. Place rolled kitchen towels on both ends of the parchment to provide support. Cover and allow to rise for 50 minutes.
Using a sharp knife or bread lame, make at least four 4-inch slashes across each loaf. If using parchment, remove towels and pull parchment by the corners to flatten.
Ice (1 cup)
to the hot pan in the oven and place baguettes on the center rack above, on the baking stone if using. (The steam will help form a nice crisp crust). Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and baguettes sound hollow when tapped.
Let the bread cool slightly, then slice and serve with your favorite spreads!