From the very beginning, one of the things that we've loved about the no-knead bread is how versatile it is. We can make it into a gorgeous and crusty round-loaf, a sandwich loaf, and yes, even a baguette. Here's how we do it.
Since the no-knead bread is so loose and sticky, we find that it's much easier to work with it if we can refrigerate the dough for at least an hour beforehand. We often make the dough one day, refrigerate it overnight, and then make our loaves the next. It takes a little planning, but results in a lot less headache - and better flavor!
When you're ready to shape the baguettes, sprinkle your counter with a little flour and turn the dough out on top. Sprinkle more flour on top of the dough and knead it for a minute or two until the flour is absorbed and the dough is no longer quite so crazy-sticky. A dough scraper can help a lot with this step.
Shape it into a rough ball and let the dough sit for 15-20 minutes. This resting period helps relax the gluten again after kneading so your baguettes don't spring back on you quite so much while shaping.
While the dough is resting, spray a baguette pan with non-stick spray. Alternatively, form a simple "couche," or cradle, for your loaves by rolling up 4-5 place mats and setting them a few inches apart. Drape the rolls with parchment paper. Your baguettes will nestle between the rolls, as pictured above.
Cut the dough into 3-4 pieces and shape each piece into baguettes following this method for How to Shape Baguettes. If the dough starts to become too sticky to work with, coat your palms in a little flour and continue shaping. Gently transfer each shaped loaf to your pan or couche and cover them loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel.
Let these rise until puffy, 45-60 minutes. Pre-heat your oven to 450° when you think there's about 20 minutes of rising left to go. Timing this takes a little trial and error until you get a feel for it, but better to err on the side of pre-heating too far in advance rather than scrambling at the last minute. If you have a baking stone, make sure this is in the oven while it pre-heats
Slash the tops of the loaves a few times just before putting them in the oven. Loaves in a baguette pan can be baked directly on top of the oven rack or baking stone. If using a couche, gently slip the rolled place mats out from under the parchment and slide your loaves still on the parchment paper onto the back of a sheet pan or pizza peel. If you have a baking stone, transfer the loaves directly onto this. If not, put the entire sheet pan in the oven.
Bake the loaves 20-30 minutes, until they look deep golden-brown and feel light when you pick them up (using oven mitts!). For an extra-crispy crust, spritz the oven with water 2-3 times during the first few minutes of baking using a spray bottle. Let the finished loaves cool slightly, but baguettes are best while still hot from the oven.
(Image: Emma Christensen)