Sunday, June 27, 2010

Viva La French...Baguette...

So I decided to make a baguette from scratch in honor of Emile Zola and France.  Making bread from scratch is something I've failed miserably at in the past, but my friend SFR swears it's easy.  She bought me a great book called How to Cook Everything, and I thought that I couldn't fail if I just followed that to the letter.

Well, yes and no.  The final product ended up pretty good, but I think it could use some tweaking.  I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, which may have effected the outcome.  I also think adding sugar might make it slightly better as well.  But it was good, and my family ate it, so I guess it passes the test!  We'll see if future forays into bread can do any better..although I may need supervision from my bread making friend.

The biggest issue I had?  Finding yeast!  I went to  a big local grocery store and spent a half hour scouring the baking aisle only to leave empty handed.  I should have just bitten the bullet and asked.  "Excuse me 16-year-old who clearly doesn't want to be bagging my groceries, but do you know if you have any yeast?"

The Baguette
You'll Need:
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 tsps salt
1 1/2 tsps yeast
A few tbsps olive oil
About 1 cup warm water

  1. Combine the dry ingredients, preferably in a standing mixer or food processor.
  2. Gradually add water until the dough forms a ball.  You don't want it to be too sticky or too dry and flaky; add more flour or water to even out the dough if you have that problem.
  3. Dump the dough into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a cool, dry place at room temperature for 3 hours.
  4. When the dough has risen, put it on a floured counter or tabletop, and shape into two small baguettes.  You can shape them however you like.  Place them on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a cloth so they can rise again, about another hour.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Once the bread has rise again, use a sharp knife to make baguette slashing marks (if you like).  Use olive oil to coat the bread evenly.  Bake until the crust is hard and golden brown, about 20 minutes.  The internal temperature should be around 210 degrees.  
  7. Remove from oven, let cool, and enjoy!  Although my family always eats their bread with olive oil and garlic salt, you can try butter, jam, or even cheese if you want to be really French!
I have to say I might retire from yeast breads for offense SFR!  But honestly...a lot of work!  Kind of like this movie...
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