baking adventures: baguettes

by Stacy

A while back, I bought Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. The light wheat bread recipe has become my go-to sandwich bread, and the cinnamon rolls were one of my first food blog-style posts on my LiveJournal.

Half the book is dedicated to explaining the “12 steps of bread” and the various flours, tools, and methods used to create bakery-quality loaves at home. The other half is recipes, including Reinhart’s personal “claim to fame,” pain a l’ancienne. The simple bread “formula” is just flour, ice water, salt and yeast which rises in the refrigerator overnight. The dough can be made into baguettes or pizza, or allowed to rise further for ciabatta or focaccia loaves.

I have never made real baguettes, and while the shaping didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped, the bread still tastes amazing! Recipes that call for 6 cups of flour or more intimidate me, so I only made half the recipe. I used my shiny new kitchen scale! Hooray! Also broken in: new pizza peel, and shiny bench scraper courtesy of a generic nameless friend.

pizza peelbench scraper

Tools ready!

After the overnight rise in the fridge, I scraped the dough gently into an (overly) generous amount of flour. After stretching it into a vaguely-rectangular shape, I used the bench scraper to slice the dough into pieces that were not as equal as I had hoped.

resting baguette dough

The dough has a high-moisture content so lots of flour is needed to combat stickiness. Not that much, though. Oops. Lesson learned! Despite my plan to make mini baguettes, I got a bit carried away shaping the first batch. The dough is just so elastic!

shaped "breadsticks"

Scoring the dough allows the bread to expand in the oven and form extra crunchy crust! It’s better if you score nicely, though. Following some advice in the book, I used scissors instead of a lame (mostly because I don’t have a lame. Hmm.), which resulted in… lame scoring. Har har har. No seriously. It’s bad.

scored breadstickspoorly-scored breadstick baguette

They ended up more like breadsticks than baguettes, but they were still delicious! Pardon the phallic presentation. Or is that just me? Oops…

baguette breadsticks

Each baguette-stick (!) is about 2 inches in diameter, so considering how thinly-stretched they got, the crumb is still pretty impressive, I think!

baguette crumb

In an attempt to make shorter and wider baguettes, batch number two went thusly:

mini baguettes
pain a l'ancienne mini baguettes

This batch could have used another minute or two in the oven. Also, the whole experience would likely have been better with some kind of baking stone or tiles (*shakes fist at Home Depot again*). That’s a project for tomorrow!

Still too much flour, but they work just fine for sandwiches! Lunch yesterday was one of those sliced in half length-wise with olive oil, tomato slices, salt and pepper. Divine!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Generic Nameless Friend June 6, 2009 at 1:14 am

I feel like your bread could benefit from an egg wash. Near the crown.

Because it looks like a wang.




Generic Nameless Friend June 6, 2009 at 1:16 am

Your bread looks delicious. I want to put it in my mouth.


Generic Nameless Friend June 6, 2009 at 1:17 am

In fact, I could probably fit two of them in at the same time.


Generic Nameless Friend June 6, 2009 at 1:17 am

Wow you are never going to approve these comments, are you ?


Generic Nameless Friend June 6, 2009 at 1:18 am

Hi Stacy’s mom!


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