Preparation / Directions:
Combine all ingredients in the bread machine pan and process on dough setting until just mixed and kneaded. Empty into large lightly greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place until tripled in size, about 3 hours. Remove plastic wrap and with wet hands lightly punch the dough down. Cover again with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until doubled, about 1 hour.
Sift flour lightly over work surface and with floured hands turn the dough out on the floured surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces and let it rest for 5 minutes. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease it. Roll each piece of dough into a cylinder 17" long. With the side of your palm hit the cylinder all the way down the back to form a crease. Pinch the crease closed and taper the ends of the loaf. Lay the baguettes into the prepared baking sheet and leave at least 2 - 3" between them. Lightly mist the dough with water and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Place in a warm draft-free place to rise till the baguettes are 1 1/2 times their original size, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. 30 minutes before the estimated baking time preheat the oven to 450F.
Press the dough with one baguette lightly with your finger; if it feels springy and not dried out and formed a crust, leave it alone, if you can feel a dry crust, gently roll and turn the baguette over so that the soft bottom crust is now on top.
Slash the baguettes diagonally with a razor or a sharp knife 3 times along the length, making sure not to cut more then 1/2" deep. Lightly mist the dough with water. Place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the preheated oven, quickly spray the oven floor several times and shut the door. Spray 3 more times every 3 minutes for a total of 4 sprays in 9 minutes.
(What I did was to throw into the bottom of the oven 3 ice cubes once at the beginning - Reggie) Bake for 25 minutes, or until the breads are nicely brown. Remove immediately to a rack to cool for 2 hours. This bread is best eaten the day it is made or frozen for later use. To reheat frozen bread place on a baking sheet in a preheated 375F oven for about 25 minutes, or until hot and crisp.
Makes three 17" baguettes...enough for a crowd.
These are absolutely excellent!!