~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Friday, March 27, 2009

Homemade Baguettes

Homemade Baguettes... I love making bread! Ever since I tried making bagels, I have been fascinated with bread baking. I used to be so scared of working with yeast dough, that I put it off for many years. When I moved to Montana, a few years ago, I decided it was time for me to at least attempt a bread recipe. I went to the library and picked up a book on bagels...I think it was by Nigella Lawson. She made it look so easy ... not so intimidating. I tried it and loved it! Since then, I have been on a quest to try a new bread recipe every so often...

I know some bread recipes don't always come out the way you expect it. But the more you try, the more experience you gain. You get a better feel of how the dough should be ....it in turn becomes easier and not so intimidating. I have to admit that I bake 80% of my breads at home. I have never attempted making baguettes before, but I have always wanted to... for such a very long time. Well, I've finally attempted them!

The recipe has quite a few steps, but I think it was worth it! I made a double batch(why go through all that work and get just a couple of loaves?!)... and since my oven stone is not big enough, I made smaller baguettes (than the original recipe). As always, I freeze all my breads. They last so much better. Just reheat in the oven and they will become just as crisp. With the baguette, I made some flank steak sandwiches with caramelized onions and peppers...delicious! Hope you enjoy...

You will need: The recipe was adapted from America's Test Kitchen Baking cookbook. Makes 2 large baguettes or 4-5 smaller loaves(12 inches)

1/2 cup bread flour
1/2 cup warm water(110 degrees)
1/2 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
3 -3 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water(110degrees)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg beaten with 2 TBS water

Directions: This recipe requires 2 days... so plan ahead.

Day 1:
Make the sponge:
1. In a medium bowl, stir all of the ingredients until combined. You will need to cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
2. Let it sit at room temp until the sponge has risen and fallen at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours. I made mine in the late afternoon and started on it in the morning.
Day 2:
1. In a mixer bowl, fitted with the dough hook, combine 3 cups of the flour and yeast.
2. On low speed, add water and mix until the dough comes together. It will be about 2 minutes.
3. Stop the mixer and cover the bowl with a plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temp for 20 minutes.
4. After the 20 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and add the sponge from the previous day.
5. Add the salt and knead the dough on med-low for about 8 minutes.
6. After about 4 minutes, if the dough is still sticking to the sides if the bowl, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 2 TBS at a time. The dough should not stick to sides only to the bottom of the bowl.
7. Complete kneading the dough for the additional 4 minutes. You should have kneaded the dough for a total of 8 minutes.
8. Turn the dough on a lightly floured counter top.
9. Form into a ball.
10. Place the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly with greased plastic wrap.
11. Let rise in a warm place. Like with all my breads I let it rise in a cozy oven. (I turn on the oven for about a minute and then turn it off. ...it should feel just cozy, not hot or too warm.).
12. Let rise 1 hour.
13. After the initial 1 hour rise time, you will need to turn the dough 2 times. Slide a bench scraper under one side of the dough. Gently lift and fold 1/3 of the dough toward the center.
14. Repeat with the other side.
15. Finally, fold the dough in half perpendicular to the first folds. This should be a rough square.
16. Let it rise for 30 minutes . Repeat the process of turning and folding.
17. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise for an additional 30 minutes.
This process stretches the dough gently and ensures that the sheets of gluten in the bread provide the proper structure and strength.
18. Top a large rimless(or inverted) baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter top.
19. Divide it into 2 loaves(I divided mine in 4-5 pieces as my baking stone is too small).
20. Shape each piece into a baguette and lay each piece seam side down. Space them about 4-5 inches apart.
Shaping the baguettes:
1. Work with one piece at a time. Gently pat the dough into a rectangle.
2. Gently fold the bottom third of the dough up to the center. Press to seal.
3. Bring the bottom of the dough up to the top and seal.
4. Flour your hand and create a large crease down the middle.
5. Pinch the top and the bottom of the dough together making sure it is secure.
6. Gently roll the baguette back and forth to make a long log.
7. Lay each piece seam side down unto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Remember to space them.
8. Mist the baguettes with vegetable oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.( I didn't cover them with plastic wrap).
9. Let rise in a warm place till doubled about 1 hr to 1 1/2 hr.
10. After about 40 minutes of rising time prepare your oven. Adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position. Place a baking stone on the rack and heat the oven to 500 degrees F.
11.  Let the baking stone heat for 30 minutes but no longer than 1 hour.
12. After the baguettes have doubled in size, score them with 1/2 inch slashes. Use a very sharp knife or a sharp blade.
13. Brush the breads with egg-water mixture. Carefully slide the breads and parchment paper unto the baking stone.
14. IMMEDIATELY reduce the oven to 425 degrees F. Don't forget this step.
15. Bake until golden and center of bread registers at 210 or about 25 minutes. Rotate loaves halfway to ensure even browning. I don't think I bothered with turning them.
16. Let cool for about 30 minutes. This bread is amazing for steak sandwiches. Delicious!


Andreea said...

Hi Ellie,

I'm shocked there is no comment for this post. :)
Absolutely superb!!
I did try a baguette, after Julia Child's (maybe adapted) recipe and even if I was satisfied with the result, it was not a ''wow'' baguette. Yours really looks like a wow :) one. Must try it!!

You have really great recipes here! :) I'm so glad I found you!

Ellie said...

Andreea, That's sweet of you...thank you! I love your blog and I am looking forward to trying some of your recipes as well:)

We loved this bread...ATK has a similar technique as Peter Reinhart does... the stretch and fold... but they have you do it in the bowl. which is kind of interesting. But the idea is very similar.

But Andreea, you already know how to make such BEAUTIFUL bread...and you continue to amaze me!

Thanks for your comment:)

Alexa Christi said...

Very nice baguettes, Ellie!
Greetings from Hungary! :)
I also like your tortilla recipe, I am very happy to meet you! Alexa

Ellie said...

Alexa, Thank you so much! So kind of you to stop by... all the way from Hungary:).
It is really nice to meet you as well! I am glad you like the recipes, and thank you for sharing your feedback.
Have a wonderful day!

Becca said...

Just found your blog, I can't wait to try this recipe! ...along with some other recipes of yours :) looks amazing!

Ellie said...

Becca, Welcome, and thanks for stopping by...
I am hoping you will have success with this recipe and any others you may try:)... it would be good if you like at least one:).

Anonymous said...

Glad I found your blog. I was looking for tortillas and found you! :)

Ellie said...

Anon, So glad you stopped by... the tortillas are simply amazing:)... Hope you enjoy them.
Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Hello Ellie and greetings from the Scottish Highlands! We don't get our bread fresher than 3 days old up here, and I bake all of it myself. This is the third time I am using your recipe for baguettes, and it has never failed me. However, I replace half of the flour with wholemeal flour, and it still turns out amazing. Thank you for the recipe. All the best, anansigirls

Ellie said...

Anansigirls, Oh, that's wonderful! SO glad you like the recipe. It made my day:)! And thanks for stopping all the way from Scotland! Love to hear from my readers from all over the world...

I really appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback, I'm thrilled to hear that it works even with part wholemeal.

Your family is blessed that you make the bread fresh for them. It must be hard when you don't have fresh bread available, but sometimes the homemade version is best:).
Warm regards to you and your family all the way in Scotland.

Kalispell Karin said...

Mmm...this recipe is definitely a keeper! Baked a batch last night, and although they flattened a bit during the last rise, the look, flavor and texture are pure perfection. A pro chef friend even asked for the recipe after seeing my photos on Facebook! Of course, I sent him your way! :-)

Ellie said...

Kalispell Karin, Oh, that's just wonderful! So glad you took the challenge to make the baguettes:). Am totally proud of you:). Obviously, others thought the same...

Made my day to hear that you enjoyed the recipe... am always touched to hear the feedback from those who try the recipes from the blog and have success. So, thank you for taking the time to write. Really appreciate it!

Alina said...

Hi, Ellie. I intend to try this recipe. I tried a baguette in the past, but it did not quite work out. I do have a couple of questions. I have a 3.5 qt stand mixer. Can I double the recipe, or is my bowl too small? Secondly: when you double the recipe, do you mix 6 or 6.5 cups in step 1 of day 2? Which means that you are left with either 1 or 1/2 cup in steps 6 (if the dough still sticks to the sides). I would love to double the recipe and freeze as much as I can. And the third question: do you have a double oven? How do you leave the baguettes rise in the final step in the oven and at the same time you say you need to rise the temperature to 500? My house is kind of cold (hey, it's winter hahaha) and I don't want my baguettes to deflate (which is what happened to my multigrain bread - which by the way was awesome). Anyway: thank you again for making baking seem easy :) I love all your recipes. Happy New Year!

Ellie said...

Hi Alina,

Glad to hear you are trying your hand at (yet again:)) making baguettes. I'll be honest making baguettes does take some practice working with dough. There are some things in bread making that go off of "touch and feel"... and oftentimes, experience is all you need:). But this recipe which comes from America's Test Kitchen should work a bit better. Hopefully, anyway:)..as they did all the hard work for us:)

On to the 3 questions:)...
1) I would not double the ingredients if you only have a 3.5 QT mixer. I think the mixer will struggle quite a bit, and you really don't want to burn the motor... especially as you will need to knead it for quite a few minutes. Honestly, if you are trying the recipe for the first time, it just might be better doing a single batch... just my thoughts. However, I do understand you wanting to freeze some:)...

2)If you do decide to double the recipe I would use the full 6 cups and add the rest of the 1/2 to 1 cup as needed. Every flour brand varies and even the air dryness will affect the amount of flour needed... in winter you tend to use less flour than in the summer. But if in doubt, add 6 and 1/4 cups then add extra flour as needed( 2 TBS at a time until the dough no longer sticks to the side)... but don't exceed the 7 cups total.
The dough is a soft dough, so don't be tempted to add extra flour... just work with gentle hand kneading throughout all the stages of the bread making.

3) I tend to let the formed baguettes rise as long as possible in the warm oven, then remove them unto a counter(close to the oven or a nice cozy environment...can even be a large microwave or next to a sunny window) while oven is preheating for the 30 minutes required. You want to be careful you place them gently on the counter.... as any rough handling of them will cause the dough to deflate(such as placing the baking sheets unto the counter with a bang:)). Also, bread can deflate prior to baking if they have overrisen... so make sure the dough just doubles in height.

Hopes that helps a bit, didn't meant to write a whole book:)... but am hoping you have success with the baguettes.

Any practice isn't ever wasted... regardless of the outcome. There's always something you can learn for next time:).

Liz said...

Hi Ellie,

Happy New Year! I made this recipe and it turned out pretty good. A couple of questions tho... I had to add 14 tablespoons of flour (step 6) before I could shape it into a ball. I don't have a mixer with a dough hook so I was making it by hand. I stirred as much as I could and the dough was very elastic, but very wet. I am pretty sure I measured everything correctly and did use Gold Medal bread flour. Is is normal to have add that much extra flour or is it bec I was mixing by hand? The dough was soft and slightly sticky when I finally was able to knead it by hand a bit. The loaves turned out with a nice distribution of holes, a good crust, and the flavor is yummy.
Second question is how do you wrap the loaves to freeze and how do you go about defrosting them?
Thanks for all your help and the great recipes!

Ellie said...

Happy New Year Liz:)! Well, I'm glad the bread came out even with the extra flour you added. 14 Tablespoons sounds quite a bit, but the type of flour, the way it was measured, winter weather can all contribute to +\- flour that is needed. And yes, sometimes kneading it by hand can attribute to extra flour, just because a wet dough(which this is) is harder to work with. Because the dough is supposed to be a wetter type of dough, it was easily able to take the extra flour you added... The result will be a denser and not as light of a baguette. But I am glad you were still able to have a good distribution of holes and that in the end it tasted yummy:)!

As for the freezing of the loaves, I simply wrap it well in either plastic or freezer paper/ parchment and then wrap in foil. If the loaves are small enough I then place them in ziploc bags. Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback. I appreciate it! Sorry I'm a bit late with answering... in the process of moving!