You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

French? Oui! Ugly? Oui Oui!

But they tasted great!
I guess I still need to work on my forming technique for these French Baguettes. Ya think?

The recipe was easy enough to put together and the dough felt perfect after it was kneaded. They rose fine.....then it came time to slash them so they would have that nice look French breads have. I have a lame that I've used before to slash dough before baking and it's worked well. Not in this case, the lame dragged through the dough instead of slicing through it like butter. That combined with my poorly formed loaves created the world's ugliest French Baguettes. Where the bread was sliced, it looks twisted and distorted. But like the old saying goes, You can't judge a book by it's cover. And such was the case here. The bread had just the right denseness and chew to it with a slight tang from letting the starter sit at room temperature overnight.

But fear not mon ami, I am not one to give up easily. Someday, after a little more practice. I will make pretty baguettes.

French Baguettes
For the starter:
1 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 cup cool (room temp) water
1/8 tsp instant yeast

Combine the flour, water and yeast together and mix until well blended. Let it rise, covered in a medium to large container, at room temperature for 12-18 hours. It is ready to use once it forms a nice dome and looks airy and bubbly. It will also have a slightly sour smell to it (which is good).

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp. salt
the starter
3/4 cup cool water

Place the flour, yeast ans salt in the bowl of your mixer. Pour about half of the water around the edge of the starter to loosen it from it's container. Pour the starter and the water into the mixer bowl. Use the flat paddle of the mixer to slowly mix the dough until it comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes. If needed, add a little flour or water to help the dough form. Stop the mixer and switch out the flat paddle with the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium speed for 4 minutes. Stop the mixer halfway through to clean off the dough hook.

Let the dough rise. You can keep it in the mixer bowl or use a lightly oiled dough rising bucket, but either way, cover it. Leave it for 2 hours, checking after the first hour to fold over the dough onto itself.

Once risen, divide the dough into three equal pieces and shape into logs. Let them rest, covered, for 20 minutes then shape them into baguettes (slightly tapered at the ends). Proof the baguettes for 30-40 minutes in a baguette pan, if you have one. If you don't, placed rolled up kitchen towels in between the loaves and on the outer edges to help them keep their shape.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Once the dough is ready to bake, slash the tops several times with a bread lame or sharp knife. Spritz the bread with water. If you aren't using baguette pan, place the loaves on a cookie sheet. Place the loaves in teh oven and reduce the heat to 475. Bake the loaves for 18-24 minutes or until they are golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.



Blogger ScottE. said...

I really want to make baguettes! Your post and the article in the recent FINE COOKING, I think I'm about to try. I have all the ingredients, I just need the time...soon...soon!

8:48 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

I'll take authentic-looking homemade bread over cookie-cutter processed blah any day of the week! I can't wait to see how your next ones come out. :-)

9:43 PM  

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