6/4/12

French Baguettes

Baking homemade bread is not new to me, but French Bread on the other hand has not been in my comfort zone. At least not until I learned how to make it from Chef Sandra at the Artisan Bread class that I took recently. The recipe that was given to us in the class is easy to do at home, and I had success with it the first time I tried it on my own.



French Baguettes
2 cups lukewarm water (110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
5 - 5 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt
Non-stick cooking spray
1 egg white beaten with a pinch of salt for glaze

Combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of the flour and the salt, stir until blended. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is elastic and pulls cleanly from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed, but not too much. Not all the flour may be needed. The dough will be very soft and wet.

First Rise: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for one minute. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, but don't turn the dough over. Sprinkle the top of the dough lightly with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 - 60 minutes.

Second Rise: Scrape the dough onto a floured work surface. Press flat, knead for a few seconds and return to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again until doubled, about 20 - 30 minutes.

Shaping and Final Proofing: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baguette pan with non-stick cooking spray. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; press flat. Cut into either 2 or 4 equal pieces with a pastry scraper and let rest for 5 minutes. Press each ball flat and then fold into thirds. Roll and stretch each into a rope 16 inches long with tapered ends if making regular size baguettes. Place in prepared baguette pan, seam side down. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes.

Brush the baguettes with the egg white glaze. Using a very sharp knife or a flat razor blade, make three 1/4 inch deep diagonal slashes on each loaf. 

Place a shallow pan filled with ice cubes on the lowest rack of the preheated oven. Bake the baguettes until browned and crusty, about 20 - 25 minutes. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.




Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute. A soft wet dough like this can best be kneaded with a silicone bowl scraper.


For the first rise, form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl, but unlike most other breads, do not turn the dough over. Dust lightly with flour.


Let rise until doubled, about 45 - 60 minutes. For the second rise, press the dough flat and knead for 1 minute, then return to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap again and let rise again until doubled, about 20 - 30 minutes.


After the second rise, it is time for the shaping and final proofing. To make two regular size baguettes, divide the dough into two equal pieces and let rest for 5 minutes. 


Form the two baguettes and place in the prepared pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled, about 20 minutes.


Brush with the egg white glaze.


Make 3 diagonal slashes across each loaf.


Fill a shallow pan with ice and place on the lowest rack of the oven.


Bake the baguettes until brown and crusty, about 20 - 25 minutes. One point Chef Sandra made in the class was not to bake bread like this on the convection setting of the oven. She said convection was too drying to use with yeast breads. For this French bread she recommends adding the pan of ice for extra moisture while baking.




14 comments:

  1. Wow! These look great and what great tips for baking the bread. Thanks for sharing them :)

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  2. This looks so yummy! One of these days I'm going to make some bread and I will definitely use this recipe. Having your tutorial on this is a huge plus! Great to know about not using the convection setting since that's all I ever use. Since I've never made bread like this I'm assuming I better invest in a loaf pan like yours.

    Thanks Anita!

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  3. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I've been making bread for years, but I have spent little time making baguettes. I will have to change that! Just printed your recipe. Visiting from the Cozy Home Party.

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  4. Very interesting in using the ice, Anita! I have a french bread recipe and I even have the same baguette pan as you have. My loaves don't turn out with a crunchy crust, though. I'll have to give your recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. Must be the night for bread...I just posted about Pita! Definitely adding this to my must-make list...thanks for sharing :)

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  6. Anita this bread looks great and your dough looks perfect. Visiting from Cozy Home Scenes. xo

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  7. I've made bread, but never French bread since I thought it was really complicated. You make it look easy to do, not to mention your loaf looks delicious! Thanks for linking to Your Cozy Home Party!

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  8. YUM! I LOVE french bread-- it just looks so difficult... but I'm going to have to give this a go!

    Hope you're having a great week!

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  9. Love this, I have got to try this recipe, and the ice is new to me! Pinning this.

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  10. that idea with ice cubes is wonderful. I am going to try it next time I make bread. thanks

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  11. Wonderful! Yours are gorgeous! I've made Franch or Italian style bread before as that's the type of bread I grew up with and it is hard to get around here. They have to package it in plastic nowadays and it gets soft. Is yours crunchy on the outside? I like a really firm crust. I'll have to try your recipe and also what is the equipment you have? I've never used a special pan but that scraper looks nice and also is that a silpat(sp?) pad you're working on? I think I need some equipment! The right tool for the job, right? I would LOVE to have a slice of that warm with butter right now......I'm salivating! Great job, Anita! Pretty soon you'll be opening your own restaurant and bakery!
    Oh, I made that chicken and dumplings casserole last night! SO GOOD!!!! And easy! It was wonderful! Thank you for all your great recipes!

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  12. Very interesting putting a pan of ice in the bottom. I've never heard of that. The pan you used for the bread looks fancy too. These baguettes sound yummy!

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  13. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you have a great week end and enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

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