French Bread (baguette)
The secret of good bread, whether French or other is the length of time it gets for the yeast to act on the flour and the quality of the flour. It is essential to leave the bread overnight before second proof. If you do it in one day you just won't get the flavor or texture. So basically the recipe is:-
2lbs of high gluten flour wholewheat or plain to your choice, although if you are doing wholewheat I would mix it 50:50 with white to get a lighter loaf
1 teaspoon yeast
2 teaspoons salt
and that is it for French bread, no additives at all, no fat.
Put the flour salt and fresh yeast (open a pack a week) in a bowl and mix with water you just have to add enough I cannot tell you, it will be about 2 cups but maybe more. You want a firm but elastic consistency and you need to knead it for about 8-10 minutes. Put in a large bowl with 1tbspn of oil in the bottom and roll the bread around to cover then put plastic wrap and a cloth over and leave for about 90 minutes or so until its clearly risen about double. Then punch it down flat again and wrap in oiled wrap and put in the fridge overnight.
The next morning take it out and put it in a bowl again covered until it warms and starts to rise, about 1 hour to 90 minutes. Then split it and shape into 4 loaves about 18-24 inches long. Cover with oiled film again and let rise for 2 hours, if you wish with a very very sharp knife slash the top to duplicate the look of a baguette.
Heat the oven as hot as it will get, 500 degrees or more. Place the bread in the oven and take a water spray bottle such as you use for laundry and spray the sides of the oven 3 times, once a minute for the first 3 minutes, this helps provide crust. The bread should be done in about 25-30 minutes. Let it cool before cutting.