Dissolve sugar in 1 cup (240ml) warm water. Stir in yeast and let it stand for about 10 minutes. The mixture should become foamy, which indicates the yeast is alive. If the mixture doesn’t foam, that means you have bad yeast, or used too hot or too cold water.
To make the dough in stand mixer, combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl with dough hook attachment. Add yeast mixture and mix on low speed for 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and not very sticky. (Depending on humidity, you may need to add a little bit more flour, but not much though.) Kneed the dough until it’s nice and smooth. Rest for 5 minutes, then run the mixer on low again for another 3 minutes.
To make the dough by hand, combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add yeast mixture and knead until dough comes together into a ball. (Depending on humidity, you may need to add a little bit more flour, but not much though.) Transfer the dough onto lightly floured kneading surface. Knead until form a nice smooth ball. Let it rest for 5 minutes, and then knead again for about 10 minutes.
Coat a bowl with a little bit of oil. (I use olive oil.)
Place the dough in the bowl, turn the dough around to coat with oil and cover with wet kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in warm place until doubled in size, for 60-90 minutes. (My secret place: microwave! First microwave a glass of water for 1-2 minutes to create steam in there, and then put the bowl with dough, covered with wet kitchen towel.)
Once the dough is doubled in size, transfer it onto a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Knead it into a nice smooth ball and divide into 2 equal parts. If you want, you can also divide into 4 parts to make smaller baguettes.
Slightly flatten each dough and pinch the long edges together per Julia Child’s method, repeat until desired length. See picture above.
Place the logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, make deep diagonal cuts on the loaves.
Let them rise for another 30-60 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
When ready to bake the bread, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nice and golden.
Cool on wire racks before serving. Keep the bread at room temperature in airtight container. Right before serving, I like to bake it for 5 minutes at 350°F (177°C) for perfectly crispy crust.
This bread freezes well too. Place the baked and cooled bread in airtight bag and freeze. When ready to serve, bake for 10 minutes at 350°F (177°C).