I was contemplating on what to post for my initial recipe. I had several selections from appetizer to soup to salad to main course down to dessert. My first choice was to make Chicken Marsala Cream with 3 Mushrooms then i thought why not a refreshing Thai salad or Panna Cotta with Berries. I had sleepless nights thinking of what recipe will I feature on my blog. Finally, I decided to make French Baguette, nothing beats the morning with a freshly baked bread topped with Tarragon Cream Cheese.
French Baguette also known in English as French Stick or French Bread, is a long thin loaf of French bread that is commonly made from basic lean dough. It is distinguishable by its length, crisp crust and slits that enable proper expansion of gases.
In making bread one needs patience because it takes a lot of time to wait before you can savor your baked bread. The preparation is easy if you have a stand mixer but a little time consuming if you're gonna use your hands, you need muscles and energy to knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes. When I was studying at a Culinary School we were taught that yeast needs a humid environment to be active, but i was surprise to discover that yeast can also be mixed with ice cold water! Another revelation that i found out is that there are other technique in making bread. It is called the delayed-fermentation method (adapted from Artisans Bread Every day by Peter Reinhart), it is controlling the temperature to delay the activation of the yeast in order to release more sugar from the starch and the result is more flavor and a crust with more color without adding extra ingredients.
I started it out by mixing all the ingredients in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until well blended, let it rest for a while then switch to dough hook and mix for another few minutes, once the dough is mixed and kneaded place the dough in an oiled container and immediately place in the refrigerator.
The black lines indicate the dough level before i put it in the refrigerator overnight. Curious as ever, every now and then I sneak and take a peak on my dough, in just a short time the dough becomes bigger and bigger.
The above photo shows my dough as soon as i took it out from the fridge, it already doubled in size because i used warm water. Let it rest for 4 hours to warm it and wake up the yeast but it didn't expand anymore i guess that's the maximum size of it.
Sprinkle the counter liberally with flour, gently remove the dough from the container taking care to release gas as little as possible. Divide the dough into 2 portions and pat each piece into a rectangle or oblong. (The second portion I cut it in half, form it into a ball and kept it in the fridge to make a pizza...uhm...what toppings will I put?)
When forming a baguette, fold up the dough then fold down, put your thumb in between the folded line, using your thumb roll over the dough and use your other hand press down gently with an upright position just to stick. The more rounded the dough form the more volume it will get. Do these twice more and on the last folding and pressing, press the dough a little aggressively to seal off the air. After that process, elongate the dough evenly as possible about 23 to 24 inches.
Cover the sheet pan with Silpat or parchment paper and dust it with flour (cornmeal or semolina flour are much better). Place the formed dough gently and let it rest for 10 minutes. Just prior to baking score or slit the dough about 1/2 inch deep with a serrated knife or razor blade. Dust the dough with flour for decoration (optional).
The delayed-fermentation method turned out very well, it was very crisp outside, soft and flavorful inside. I was overjoyed with the result of the bread because every time I take a bite I can hear the crackling sound..crack...crack...crack.
Makes about 2 loaf
- 2-3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water
Dough can also be kneaded by hand. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix then switch to your hands when all the ingredients are incorporated. Let it rest for 5 minutes then knead for 5 minutes more until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl and refrigerated overnight.
To Form. Remove dough from the fridge 2 hours before baking. Transfer gently to a work surface taking care to release as little gas as possible. Divide the dough into 2 portions and form each pieces into a loaf. Place the dough gently on a baking sheet with parchment paper dusted with flour. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Score or slit the dough 1/2 inch deep diagonally and dust with flour.
To Bake. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit 45 minutes before baking. Place a sheet pan with 1 inch ream which will serve as steam pan under which the baguette will be baked. Transfer dough to the oven and pour 1-1/2 cup hot water into the steam pan. Bake for 15 minutes then rotate the pan and bake for another 20 minutes until golden brown. The internal temperature should be 200 degrees fahrenheit in the center. Transfer the bread into a cooling rack, let it cool before slicing or serving. It is best eaten on the same day, or heated briefly in the oven the next day.
Patience is a virtue....all good things come to those who wait. I have waited and now I can enjoy the fruit of my labor. Bon Appétit!!!
By the way, next time i will use a different method in baking baguette, same ingredient and measurement, let us see what are their similarities and differences.
Knead means to mix and work into a uniform mass, as by folding, pressing, and stretching with the hands.
Yeast available in any supermarket
By His Grace,