Saturday, June 11, 2011

French Baguettes (go great with Italian food, too)

This recipe sounds a bit complicated, but once you've done it a couple of time, it a snap to do and a joy to serve, This version uses ONLY unbleached white bread flour.  There is another recipe post that is a  version using about 75-% whole grains and, we'll be posting about the dietary and taste advantages of getting into whole grains baking.

(This recipe was revised on 6/14/2011 based on testing results)

Ingredients: (makes 4 11 ounce (approx) baguettes)

2 Packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)

3 Cups water total (1/2 cup is used for proofing the yeast, and the remaining 2-1/2 cups is used later)
7 Cups bread flour (you can substitute all purpose flour and get a good result)
A generous pinch of powdered vitamin C (see note in directions below)

3-1/2 Teaspoons salt (we use unrefined sea salt... you may use less salt if you wish, but do NOT omit because it will alter the dough chemistry and produce an unsatisfactory result)


Stir the yeast into 1/2 cup of warm (100 degree) water. Set aside until foamy. Then stir in the vitamin C (Note- a crushed Vitamin C tablet will do and if you don't have any just omit)

It is vital that the rest of the water, 2-1/2 cups) be at the correct temperature for this method. Let the tap run until the water is cold to the touch and run the 2-1/2 cups into a measuring pitcher. Add 3 ice cubes and wait until the temperature is down to about 60 degrees.
To mix with a dough hook mixer (like a Kitchen Aid) follow these directions. If you do not have a stand mixer, we suggest you check out the mixing and kneading directions on
Pour 6-1/2 cups of the flour into the mixing bowl. Add the bubbly yeast mixture along with about 1-1/2 cups of the cooled water. Mix on slowest speed for 3 mins. Increase the speed to medium and run for another 5 minutes. When the dough rises on the dough hook just push it down and continue. At the end of 5 minutes add the salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and continue for another 2 minutes. (It is sometimes necessary to add additional flour to get a good elastic dough consistency.
Allow the dough to rise in a mixing bowl for about an hour. More or less depending on room temperature. Cover with damp cloth or disposable shower cap and allow to rise to double in volume. This usually takes about one hour depending on room temperature.
Turn the dough out on a floured board or counter and form into a ball and divide roughly into four pieces. Then work each of these pieces into a 14-18 inch roll and place in an oiled baguette pans. (If you don't have pans, you may simply place them on an oiled baking sheet. The shape won't be entirely baguette like, nut you will have a good crispy loaf.) Cut the top of the loaves with a serrated knife, either with several diagonal slits or one slit down the length. Cover with a damp cloth (you do not want to use terry cloth. a linen or cotton towel is best) and let rise until about double in size.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spritz 3 or 4 times with water from a spray bottle. Place in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. (20 minutes will suffice at sea level and you will probably want the full 30 minutes in mountainous area like ours in Magdalena.  If you are putting the pans on 2 separate oven racks, it is a very good idea to switch them at about the mid point in baking so that loves will be more uniformly baked.
Remove the bread from the oven and test by thumping on the bottom of the loaf. If there is a hollow sound, your bread is finished... if not, return to oven for a few minutes and thump again.

After cooling on a wire rack, the bread is ready to slice and enjoy. If you wish, you may store these baguettes in the freezer for as long as a few months. Then remove and thaw before placing in a hot oven for about 5 minutes to crisp the crust.

Sound like to much trouble? Try it a couple of times and you'll probably agree that it is worth the extra effort and time.

1 comment:

  1. Baked both an all white version and a whole grains batch yesterday. We have some interesting information on the difference in making the two. And, we will be revising the ingredients and directions a bit in both of these published recipes to achieve a more consistent result.
    Please note that both of these recipes aren't for those of you who are gluten intolerant. In fact, I add an extra 3 tablespoons of gluten to the whole grains recipe to give the final product a somewhat lighter and airier loaf.