Baguettes, Baguettes, Baguettes!

Long hiatus! But I assure you it’s only because real life took over in very good ways. More on that later. For now, just when we are all getting back in shape – biking, running, climbing, frisbeeing – here’s a yummy yummy recipe for baguettes!

I’ve always dreamed of waking up and sitting down – still in my pjs – to fresh baked baguettes. The closest I’ve ever gotten was my semester in Switzerland. The daily free breakfast in our house was less than glamorous, but so perfect for me – fresh bread, hard boiled eggs and coffee, coffee, coffee!

After I got the baguette pan for Christmas, I was on the hunt for the perfect recipe. Finally I came upon Not Without Salt’s post on Baguettes from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart. Below is my tweaked recipe.

Homemade Baguettes

Makes four baguettes
Adapted from Artisan Breads Every Day, Peter Reinhart and Not Without Salt

Ingredients

5 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

1 tbsp coarse kosher salt (or a little more)

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast! ( make sure it is instant, activating yeast just doesn’t work as well)

2 cups warm – hot water

Time: 20 mins to prep, 1 day to rise, 2 hours of rising on baking day, 40 minutes to bake

http://www.flickr.com/photos/amanda_joyce/7155307166/in/photostream

 

 

Day 1: Mix all ingredients in a bowl. I don’t have a stand mixer so by hand it was. Perhaps someday I will get one as a gift… maybe for my birthday… I really like this one in yellow pepper… but mixing with a wooden spoon worked just fine. The dough should become a rough ball – not too smooth. Let it rest for a few minuets and then knead until it is smooth.  Time to let it rise! Put it in a bowl with room to grow and a tight covering on top (don’t want the dough to dry out – ew.) Put it in the fridge to rise.

Rising Time: These work best if you let them rise for 24 hours, but I’ve done as little as 12 and they are pretty awesome, just a little less flavorful. The longer the dough sits, the bigger the yeasty taste.

Day 2: Take out of the fridge at least 2 hours before baking. Remove as much dough as you want to make (1/4 for a baguette / dough saves for a few days.) The next section is tricky. Essentially you want to create air pockets and layers in the final bread. This is done by making the dough into a rectangle and folding it over on itself and sealing. I’ve found if the dough is too floured it’s hard to reseal. After doing this a few times (up to you, I usually do three folder overs) roll out the bread to the length of the pan (or a little longer as it will shorten as it rises.) Place the bread on the pan with any seams on the bottom and cover with a light damp cloth. Leave to rise for at least a hour and a half – I like to leave it for 2 hours.

Baking: Preheat oven to 450 F and place a roasting pan with at least 1” of water on the lower rack of the oven. Remove cloth cover from the baguettes and let them rise for another 15 minuets. Just before you put the bread into the oven score with a knife – only 1/2″. When I worked at a bakery in high school, the baker told me that this is where he put’s his signature. So feel free to get creative! I just like to do portion sizes- usually five scores so boring – but x’s might be cool!

Bake for 20 minuets – turn pan around and bake another 20 minutes until they are crusty and brown. A great way to tell if they are done is to tap on them – it should sound hollow and delicious.

Serve with peach jam or Nutella or soup.. or anything else…