Friday, March 18, 2011

Baguette

I got this great book called Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. It has a ton of great recipes in it, so I was super excited to have some free time to try out one of the recipes. Imagine my disappointment when I went to Whole Foods looking for fresh yeast and they had none. Not only does Whole Foods not have fresh yeast they don’t carry it. So after I went to three other stores I came to the determination that no one sells fresh yeast.

I was very disappointed but I decided to flex my cooking muscles and alternated the recipe so I could use dry yeast.
Ingredients
5 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (I’ve used all-purpose with great results)
1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 cups warm water


Method


Prep Day: Combine all ingredients in bowl of mixer, set with paddle attachment, and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute until well blended and smooth. Let rest, uncovered for 5 minutes. Switch to dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Dough should be smooth and tacky but not sticky. Knead dough by hand on lightly floured work surface for 1 minute, and then transfer to a large clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.


Baking Day: Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours prior to baking. Gently transfer to lightly floured work surface, taking care to release as little gas as possible. Divide dough into four equal portions. You can also do as I have by removing just enough dough to make one baguette and have a fresh baguette everyday for the next four days from one single batch of dough.


Form Baguettes: Pat each piece of divided dough into a thick rectangle.





Fold the bottom half to the center and seal the seam. Fold the top half to the center and once again seal the seam.



Roll the top half of the dough over the seam to create a new seam on the bottom of the loaf.



With seam side underneath, gently rock loaf back and forth, with hands moving out toward and increasing pressure at the ends, to slightly taper the loaf until baguette is the length of baguette pan (or baking sheet).




Place the formed baguettes on a baguette pan or a baking sheet that has been oiled or covered with parchment. Mist top of dough with oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours, or until increased to 1 1/2 times its original size


Baking: About 45 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a sheet pan, which will serve as steam pan, with a 1-inch rim on shelf under which baguettes will be baked. Remove plastic wrap from the dough 15 minutes prior to baking. Just prior to baking, score the dough 1/2 inch deep with a serrated knife or razor. Transfer dough to the oven, pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan.


Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the crust is rich golden brown, the loaves sound hollow when thumped, and the internal temperature is about 200 degrees in the center. Cool on wire rack before slicing or serving. Best eaten the same day, or heated briefly in the oven the next day if crust loses its crispness


While the process is very long and time consuming it is so worth it in the end. The best part is it makes four loaves of bread. It is probably one of the best bread recipe I have made.

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