Sunday, February 19, 2012

Easy Baguettes


For the longest time, I was afraid to bake my own bread.  Yeast, after all, is mysterious and scary.  Do I need  to proof it?  What if it doesn't rise?  What if it rises too much?  Which kind do I need?  I finally got over it and decided to just give it a try.  After my success at making a loaf of No-Knead Bread several weeks ago, I've been emboldened to try more.  These baguettes were another first-attempt, and turned out fantastically well.

The baguettes are obviously a different shape from the no-knead bread, and the texture differs, too - the crust, in particular, is much crisper, but the interior is still airy and fluffy.  Kristin and I gladly ate them up with some pasta, and I'll definitely be making more soon.


Could the ingredients be any simpler?  All you need is flour, yeast, water, and salt.


To get things started, mix together the flour, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl.


Add water and mix.  Knead for a few minutes until you've formed a rough, sticky, dense dough.


Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise someplace warm for two or three hours.  The dough should at least double in size.


Now it's time to form the dough into baguette shapes.  Divide it in half, and flatten into a rough oval on a floured surface.  Fold that oval in half into a sort of thick half-moon shape, then fold again in on itself until you've formed the long tube shape of a baguette.  Press together the creases and taper the ends a bit until you've got a rough baguette shape, about 14 inches long and a few inches wide.


Cover your newly-shaped baguettes and let them rise again at least a half-hour until they have re-doubled in size.  You'll notice that in this case, one baguette rose more in width than height - both still baked up just as delicious as the other.  This isn't a recipe that guarantees artistic results, but I find I actually prefer the more rustic, "artisan" look.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees while the loaves rise.


Right before you're ready to bake, use a sharp knife to make several angled slashes across the top of each loaf at roughly 4-inch intervals.  As soon as you do this, the loaves will begin to deflate a bit - so it's time to get them into the oven!


Baking 25-30 minutes at 450 degrees will handily counter that deflation.  Your baguettes are done when the top is nice and brown.


Cool the bread on a wire rack several minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or room temperature, with butter or without, preferably with some soup or sauce to dip into.


Recipe: Easy Baguettes
Prep Time: 3-4 Hours | Cook Time: 25-30 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 2 medium baguettes

Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tbsp Instant Yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm Water
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add water, mix, and knead 3-4 minutes into a rough, sticky dough.
  3. Cover dough and let rise 2-3 hours until doubled in size.
  4. Once dough has risen, divide in half.
  5. Press each half of dough into a rough oval on a floured surface.  Fold over twice lengthwise into baguette shape, approx. 14 inches long.
  6. Cover baguettes and let rise 30 minutes.
  7. With a sharp knife, make angular slashes across the top of each loaf at 4-inch intervals.
  8. Bake at 450 degrees 25-30 minutes until well-browned.
  9. Cool several minutes on wire racks before slicing.

2 comments:

  1. This is FABULOUS!!! I now make it all the time. My only modification is brushing on a little grape seed or olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt before I bake it. Great, so easy and cheap! THANK YOU!!!!

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  2. Found this recipe from r/baking, made it tonight and omg. It doesn't look pretty (I am not good at baguettes yet) but my husband is raving about how good it is and we've just about eaten an entire loaf between us. Thanks!! Will definitely make it again.

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