One woman's adventures in cooking for her Dutch-American family.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick & Crusty French Baguettes

Quick and Crusty French Baguettes
We started off the year this year in Europe vising The Hub's family. We took a day trip to Paris (where we were engaged 4.5 years ago!). We stopped a local grocery store for breakfast one morning and bought a huge baguette for about 75 euros (a little less than a dollar). I realize that a grocery store isn't as romantic as a bakery, but we were walking, hungry, with a toddler and the grocery store was the first food establishment we found! A few weeks later, back at home, we found a baguette at our local grocery store for almost $3. Ever since then, I have wanted to make my own.

Thanks to Pinterest, I found this really easy (only slightly modified) recipe, originally posted on Babble.com.

• 2 cups very warm water
• 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3-4 cups flour

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Yeast can be a little tricky. Here's my secret:
I am guilty of killing many a yeast particle...until I learned to use water that was exactly 95 degrees.
3. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes.
The heat from the stove will help activate the yeast.
Your yeast should look nice and frothy, like this. If you still see cloudy water, give it another 5 minutes. If it doesn't look like this, you've killed the yeast and need to try again.
4. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft but not sticky. Knead the dough until elastic. Texture is more important that measurements because the amount of flour you need will be based on the humidity and altitude of your home.
While I aspire to owning a Kitchen Aid mixer, for now I do everything by hand. Keep adding flour until you can knead the dough without it sticking to your fingers.
5. Cut the dough into four even pieces.

6. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes.
Clearly I need more practice with play dough.
7. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf.

Close up of the part of my twist that looks impressive.
8. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
As I rolled my dough, I ended up having to make a third twist because of the size of my oven sheet.
6. You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry) or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.
This is only 15 minutes of rising.
7. Now for the other secret: Place 3-4 cups of ice on a cookie sheet. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes on the top rack, then place the tray with the ice cubes on the bottom rack of the oven and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes. Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

Be careful removing the water tray when you're done!
8. Serve fresh and hot with your favorite olive oil for dipping.

Eet Smakelijk! Or, in this case, bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. I would try it like this:

    (two baguette's)

    2 cups ice cold water
    1 teaspoons or less of instant yeast
    1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 cups flour (refrigerated)

    Mix the dough together either in an electric mixer or by hand. If mixing by hand use a cold metal spoon. If mixing with a machine, mix slowly for about 8 minutes. You want to keep the dough as cold as possible.

    After the dough gets to a sticky-ish condition where it is sticking to the bottom of the bowl, and not the sides, transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic and immediately refrigerate for 18-24 hours.. or more.. up to 3 days.

    Remove from the fridge, leave out at room temperature 4 hours from the time you want to bake it. When the dough doubles from the original size, stretch it out into 6 by 8 inches across. Cut in half and carefully shape into baguette forms, place on parchment paper. -Being very careful the whole time to let as little gas release from the dough as possible!

    Place an empty roasting pan in the oven, pre-heat oven to 500-600 F.

    Place baguettes on top of the parchment paper onto pizza stone of the oven. Pour a cup of water into the roasting pan, and shut the door of the oven. -Wait 30 seconds. Spray the sides of the oven with water, and shut the door for 30 seconds. Spray the sides with water again, and shut the door another 30 seconds.

    turn the temperature down to 475 F.

    Bake for 8 minutes.
    Rotate the bread 180 degrees.
    Bake for 10-15 more minutes until golden brown.



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