I am so, so incredibly excited to share this recipe with you.  This, my friends, is the answer to getting fabulous, perfect baguettes without having to buy them from the store.  You see, I’ve made French bread at home plenty of times before but I think the old version was somewhat lacking.  Maybe too tough, too dense, just something that made me still prefer the kind I could purchase.  But this – this is just the type of bread I was hoping for.  With a crisp, crackly exterior and a light, chewy interior that is full of flavor, I have found the one.

This was actually my second attempt at this recipe, and I’ll tell you two important things I learned during the first go-round.  First, timing is key.  You will be taking the finished baguettes out of the oven approximately 24 hours after you start the sponge.  Due to the timing of the various steps, you’ll want to start these sometime between 8 am-12 pm unless you want to be staying up really late or getting up in the night to knead and shape dough (no!)  Second, the sponge is supposed to rise and then collapse.  Both times I have made this sponge, I have never witnessed the collapse.  The first attempt I even waited extra long and eventually left it out overnight, but still, the collapse never occurred.  So, I guess if you see the collapse great but if not, no worries.  I just went ahead and used the sponge, and everything worked out wonderfully.  Though I like to make a lot of my bread doughs in the stand mixer, I made this entirely by hand and let me tell you, it is FUN crashing the dough into the kitchen counter!  These may seem like a lot of work but most of the time is inactive while the sponge and dough rise, and they are totally worth the effort.  Ooh la la!