Home baked baguettes has been a long held dream but I’ve never mustered up the courage to attempt these in my little oven. And then, imagine my joy when I came across this ‘baguettes for Dummies’ version on the Food52 site.
The A-Z Challenge offered the perfect excuse to dip my toe in.
I can’t possibly do a better job of the step by step pictorial instructions so here’s the link to them. I have, however, reproduced the recipe text below.
As I type this, I’m waiting for my beloved baguettes to cool so that the husband and I can have a mini midnight snack.
1 1/2 cups tap water, heated to 115° F
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups all–purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I have reduced this from the original quantity.)
Canola oil, for greasing bowl
1/2 cup ice cubes
- Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.
- Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
- Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.
Notes and my learnings from the baguette making experience:
1. This is a recipe for a lazy Saturday at home. It needs to chug alongside your other activities where you can tend to the baguette process in between and then carry on with whatever you are doing.
2. Although the actual active time is not much, the waiting time needs patience and a timer.
3. It is a labour of love and SO worth it. Who doesn’t love a good baguette?
Enjoy!! I did. And I’m now looking forward to making them again next Saturday.