It’s Spring Break at my school site this week, which means I have more time to spend doing things I haven’t had much time for in the past few weeks, like cooking. It’s not too often that I get a series of not-so-busy days in a row, which is perfect for recipes that take more time, like this one for baguettes (and another one that, fingers crossed, I’ll be starting later this week).
My first authentic baguette experience (yea that sounds kind of silly) occurred during the summer before I started high school. I was traveling around Europe on a three-week educational trip, and spent a few days staying with a host family in a cute little house somewhere near Paris. I believe it was the first night’s dinner that featured the tasty baguette (along with some paté that looked gross but probably tasted wonderful), which was passed around the table so folks could rip off a chunk. This was a new but fun experience for me, and it’s still my favorite way to eat a baguette.
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/16 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 1 cup bread flour
- 1 tsp active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- the starter
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 tsp salt
- To make the starter: In a medium bowl, mix yeast with water, then add in the flour to make a soft dough. If you’re using instant yeast you can skip the first step and just mix everything together. Cover with a towel and let sit for about 14 hours. The starter should have risen a bit by the time the 14 hours is up.
- To make the dough: If using active dry yeast, mix it with the water first, then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. If using instant yeast you can just mix everything together. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until it’s somewhat soft and smooth.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let rise for three hours. Deflate and turn the dough at 1 and 2 hour marks.
- After three hours of rise time, turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface (I used a baking sheet) and divide it into three pieces. Shape each piece into a slightly flat oval, cover with a towel, and let sit for 15 minutes.
- Take one piece of the dough and fold it in half lengthwise (AKA hot-dog style). Seal the edges with your fingertips, and then fold in half and seal again.
- Turn the dough so the seam is on the bottom, then gently roll and pull the dough, forming it into a 15″ log.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other two pieces of dough. Place all three logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let sit for 1.5 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Grab a sharp knife, hold it at a 45° angle, and make three vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes with warm water – this will help crisp up the crust.
- Bake the baguettes for 25-30 minutes, or until they’re as brown and crispy as you’d like them. Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool.
Try a slice of baguette with one or two slow-roasted tomatoes on top. Yum!
Source: King Arthur Flour