French Baguettes made at home! These take some time but are well worth it!
Summer is just around the corner and lately I feel like I have a million things going on. . but I love it. I feel like sometimes I function better when I have personal deadlines and a long list of things to do. Keeps me busy. An idle Alice is not fun to be around. I get this gene from my father.
But there’s a fine line between keeping busy and staying productive and being so busy/loaded you want to pull your hair out.
I’m still trying to figure out what this means for me and where that fine line is for me. Even when things are crazy, I still manage to find time to bake. I really enjoy it and am a pretty visual person so I love seeing the end result; the fruit of all my labor after I bake.
I love bread. LOVE bread. If I could, I would just eat bread and butter or bread with brie and fruit and chocolate all day. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. But I will (and did) enjoy a few slices of this bread with dinner and a glass of wine. So good! This week was a little more crazy than normal and I wish I had Monday to do over again but hey, what are you gonna do? The highlight of my week was conquering baking these French Baguettes!!! I baked baguettes! (Insert big happy dance). I usually buy a baguette every week so I’m so happy that I finally tried this.
The ingredients in baguettes are pure simplicity: flour, water, salt, and yeast. That is it. Yeast is freakin’ amazing. Seriously. I didn’t even mind that an overnight rest was required (as I am finding a lot good breads require this anyway) + 3 rises before you actually bake these. Once you know this upfront, accept it and move on. Your reward will be biting into the bread and slathering on butter, which will melt immediately because you don’t really have to wait for these to cool. You don’t. Just grab one, slice it up and enjoy! By the time you are finished, you will want to eat an entire baguette yourself.
For the starter:
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/16 teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 1 cup unbleached bread flour
For the dough:
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 1 cup to 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water*
- all of the starter
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt to taste
- Make the starter by mixing the yeast with the water (no need to do this if you're using instant yeast), then mixing in the flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; overnight works well. The starter should have risen and become bubbly. If it hasn't, your yeast may not be working. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of yeast in 1 tablespoon lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar, and wait 15 minutes. If nothing happens, replace your yeast, and begin the starter process again.
- If you're using active dry yeast, mix it with the water, then combine with the starter, flour, and salt. If you're using instant yeast, there's no need to combine it with the water first. Mix and knead everything together—by hand, mixer or bread machine set on the dough cycle—till you've made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. Knead for about 5 minutes on speed 2 of a stand mixer
- Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces.
- Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again.
- With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15" log. Place the logs seam-side down into the wells of a baguette pan; or onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans.*
- Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they've become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F; if you're using a baking stone, place it on the lowest rack.
- Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make three 8" vertical slashes in each baguette. Spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.
- Bake the baguettes until they're a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2", and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven.
TwelveLoaves May: Bake any bread, yeast or quick bread, loaf or individual. May is all about celebrating bread and the one year anniversary of TwelveLoaves. Do you have a favorite bread? We would love to see it. Think luscious quick loaves, sinful scones, delightful danishes. Any bread recipe you’d like to bake, share it with us! Let’s get baking!
You must see what our very talented #TwelveLoaves bakers have created for May!
- Apple Kuchen by Liz at That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Basic Focaccia by Holly at A Baker’s House
- Buttermilk Sourdough Waffles by Renee at Magnolia Days
- Cinnamon Crescent Rolls by Krista at A Handful of Everything
- Cinnamon Rolls by Dionne at Try Anything Once Culinary
- Cinnamon Sugar Challah by Paula at Vintage Kitchen
- Olive Bread by Rossella at Ma che ti sei mangiato
- Mexican Hot Chocolate Bread by Lora at Cake Duchess
- San Francisco Sourdough Bread by Karen at Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Zucchini Pineapple Quick Bread by Lyn at The Lovely Pantry
Do you have a favorite bread? We would love to see it. Let’s get baking! Want to join the #TwelveLoaves group? It’s easy!
- When you post your Twelve Loaves bread on your blog, make sure that you mention the Twelve Loaves challenge in your blog post; this helps us get more members as well as share everyone’s posts. Please make sure that your bread is inspired by the theme!
- please link your post to the linky tool at the bottom of my blog. It must be a bread baked to the Twelve Loaves theme.
- Your Twelve Loaves bread should be baked this May, 2013, and posted on your blog by May 31, 2013.