These delicious rolls are simply small, rounded baguettes. They convey a more formal air than a baguette, making them ideal for entertaining. For more on baking bread, see our photo galleries By Bread Alone: Making Dough and By Bread Alone: Shaping Dough, and our article By Bread Alone: Baking the Perfect Loaf.
- French Dough
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered, fold dough in half lengthwise to form a tight, narrow log. Gently press edges with lightly floured fingertips to seal. Using a dough scraper or a knife, cut into 8 pieces.
Gather edges, and gently pull and tuck them underneath the dough to create a round shape, pinching to seal.
Place dough on the work surface. Cup one hand around dough, and rotate it in circles until a smooth, taut ball forms.
Place rolls on a generously floured linen towel or a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise at cool room temperature until rolls have almost doubled and a floured finger pressed into side leaves a slight indentation, 30 to 40 minutes.
Place a skillet on oven rack adjusted to lowest position and a baking stone on middle oven rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a linen towel, gently transfer rolls to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Just before baking, use a lame or a razor blade to slash the surface of each roll, forming an X. Pour 1/2 cup hot water into skillet in oven. Slide rolls and parchment onto baking stone.
Immediately reduce oven to 450 degrees. Bake until rolls are deep golden brown, sound hollow when bottoms are thumped, and interiors register 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on racks. Rolls are best the day you make them, but they can be wrapped in parchment and then foil, and stored at room temperature overnight (or frozen for up to 1 month; thaw at room temperature before serving).