Sunday, March 29, 2009

Homemade French Baguette

Good baguette is simply delicious! No wonder you see elegant French chewing on a baguette on the street, because they cannot wait to get home. If I had a baguette in hand, I would do the same. Elegance can wait, my palate's satisfaction goes first. However, if you can bake this bread at home, you can keep your elegance and satisfy your palate at the same time. Thus, I decided to pursue this goal in my life. Owing to King Arthur Flour website, I baked this fantastic bread at home.

Baguette Recipe

1/2 cup cool water
1 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Direction: dissolve the dry yeast in water, then mix in the flour (Fig. A). Mix well using a fork or chopstick. Cover and let it rest at room temperature 14 hours or over night.

Fig. A Dough
All of the starter/sponge
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1. Mix yeast and lukewarm water in a big mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt and the starter. Knead till a soft and smooth dough is formed. I do this step in Kitchen Aid Artisan with the dough hook.
2. Cover the dough with a lightly greased plastic warp, let the dough rise at room temp for 3 hours, or till the volume is doubled (Fig. B).
3. Gently deflate the dough and let it rise again for 1 hours. Then deflate again and let it rise for another hour. If it is not practical to do this three rounds of rising in one day, the dough can be stored in the fridge, let it rise over night.
4. Turn dough on a floured surface. Divide the dough into 3 pieces. Roll dough into long oval shape (Fig. C and D).
5. Work the dough one at a time. Fold the dough lengthwise into half. Seal the edge with the side of the palm (Fig. E). Fold again the same way (Fig. F).
6. Roll the dough into a smooth and 15" long log (Fig. G).
7. Transfer the 3 logs onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, leave the seals facing down (Fig. H). Cover them with a slightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for 1.5 hours (Fig. H).
8. Preheat the oven to 450F.
9. Remove the plastic wrap and spray the bread logs with water heavily. This will help the baguette develop a crackly-crisp crust. Use a sharp knife or knife with a serrated edge to slash the logs a few time (Fig. I).
10. Bake the baguette at 450F for about 25 minutes, or till golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool on a cooling rack (Fig. J). For a even crisper crust, After the baking, turn off the oven. Leave the baguette in the oven with the oven door cracked open for about 2", let the baguette cool in the oven.
11. Enjoy (Fig. K)!

Fig. B
Fig. C
Fig. D
Fig. E
Fig. F
Fig. G
Fig. H
Fig. I
Fig. J
Fig. K

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