1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
4-5 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water and mix well with a fork. Let the yeast proof for 10 minutes. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add in the yeast mixture and 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together and is combined enough to knead. Dump it out on a lightly floured counter or board, and knead for six to 10 minutes until the dough is tacky and smooth. Return the dough ball to a clean bowl and cover with olive oil. Let the dough rise until doubled, about an hour or so.
Punch down the dough and cut into four pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then shape into baguettes – mine are about 14 inches long. Transfer loaves to a baking sheet covered with a lightly oiled piece of parchment paper and allow them to rise for another half hour or so until nearly doubled in size. Preheat oven for 450 with an extra pan for water. Brush each loaf liberally with the egg and water mixture, then slash diagonally three or four times with a serrated knife or razor blade.
Bake for 15 minutes, putting 2 cups of hot water in the pan when you start. Then lower temperature to 400 and bake for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a rack.