Breadmaking is so satisfying and, usually, easier than one thinks if you let the simple ingredients do their thing. And then there's the lesson of patience and perseverence that comes with recipes that take more than 30 minutes. This one, adapated from a cookbooked called Ultimate Bread, is a great introduction to the baguette, one perfect for things like tapenade, crostinis, and the like.

2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
3-1/2 cups, more or less, flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Pour one cup of the warm water in a bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof; then mix. In a large bowl, mix the flour and the salt. Then create a well in the center. Pour the yeast liquid into the well and using a wooden spoon draw in just enough flour to create a sponge. Let sit 20 minutes until frothy. Then add the remaining water and stir into a dough, adjusting flour and water until it comes together in a soft, sticky dough. Knead 10 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rise 45-90 minutes until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise another 45 minutes. Punch down and repeat again. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and shape into baguettes. Place on floured baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise about 50 minutes. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Cut diagonal slashes across the top and bake in preheated oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

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