Monday, September 22, 2008

White Bread - Baguettes

Are you enjoying our wonderful trip down white bread lane? Hopefully by now the idea of making homemade bread is starting to not scare you as much. Bread baking is as much about “Just Do It” as it is about getting something “right”.

Do not worry about getting your shape exactly correct or cutting your Epi perfectly (should you choose to go that route). The idea here at The Table is to always have fun and just get in the kitchen! The exhilaration, the feeling of accomplishment, the joy! GET IN THERE AND BAKE SOME BREAD!!! :)

Richard Bertinet has definitely created some keepers in his book Dough. This white bread dough is so versatile and we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what this dough can be turned into! I firmly believe that once you use this recipe it will quickly become your ‘go-to’ recipe for bread in a pinch!

(From Dough by Richard Bertinet)

To Prepare:

Line a baking tray with a lightly floured lint-free dishtowel.

To Make:

  • With the help of the rounded end of your scraper, turn the dough out onto a floured counter. Using the sharp side of your scraper cut it into 4 pieces (weighing about 8 ounces each) if you are making full-sized baguettes or8 (weighing about 4 ounces each) for the mini baguettes. Roll each piece into a ball and let them rest for another 5 minutes.
  • Lightly dust the counter with flour. To mold the baguettes, take the first ball, turn it rounded side down and then flatten it with the heel of your hand into a rough oval shape. Fold one side of your flattened dough into the middle and again use the heel of your hand, or thumb, to press it down and seal. Bring the other side over to the middle and again press down to seal. By folding and pressing in this way, you give the dough some extra strength down the spine of the baguette. Finally, fold in half lengthwise and seal the edges so you end up with a long log shape. Roll each baguette a little to shape and extend it to the length of your towel-lined baking tray. Repeat with the other balls of dough.
  • Lay the baguettes on the towel on your baking tray, making a pleat in the towel between each one (to stop them touching as they rise). Cover with another towel and let rise for 45-60 minutes, or until they have nearly doubled in volume.
  • Transfer the baguettes to a very lightly floured wooden peel or flat-edged cooking sheet. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, make 5 or 6 diagonal cuts across the top of the baguette. Make the cuts swiftly and cleanly, taking care not to drag the dough.
  • The crust on your baguettes will be crunchier if you bake them with a little steam, so mist the inside of the preheated oven using a water spray just before putting them in. Slide them onto your baking stone or tray in the oven. Spray again with water just before closing the door and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until the crust is a nice deep golden color. (Once you have closed the door , do not open it for the first 4-5 minutes so that you maintain the heat needed to form the crust.)

Variation: Epis

Follow the method for baguettes up to the point of laying the bread on a lightly floured flat baking tray. With a pair of scissors, held at a 45 degree angle to the dough, start at one end of the baguette and make snips (cutting three quarters of the way through the dough) at intervals all the way down the center. This will create “V” shaped points of dough which you can push to alternate sides of the bread, so that it looks like a wheat sheaf. Bake, with steam (as above), for 10 – 12 minutes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our trip down white bread lane. This is the first of my focused dough type trips. Stay tuned for wheat bread, wet dough, quick breads, and many more!

Do you have a special request or even a question about something you ate and really enjoyed? Do you know of a bread recipe but you’re a little timid to try it out?

Throw them at me in the comments and we will work through them together!


Julie said...

What beautiful baguettes! I have Dough and was impressed by the directions, but still haven't tried Bertinet's recipes. Part of it is I seem to be showing the early symptoms of arthritis in my fingers and wrists. My baking instructor once told us that our KitchenAids probably couldn't handle dough, so I'm wary about using that. Any tips for the old and creaky? ;)

Jude said...

I've thumbed through Bertinet's book and it looks great. The photography is outstanding. Thanks for the Dough posts!

Cakespy said...

Oh, those baguettes look amazing! I'd like to cuddle up to that basket at the end!! I've got to check out this book.

Tablebread said...

julie - It's all about the power. As you will recall in one of my December posts I got a new KA. It was about a 350W mixer. That one could not hold up to much flour or kneading. (I actually almost killed the motor once!) I was lucky enough to upgrade to the Pro 6 and you could throw a Mack truck at this thing and it would take it. Also, I totally know where you're coming from with the Arthritis. I have Rheumatoid arthritis coming my way. I would try to do some of the no-knead recipes that are out there. I'll see what I can't do to inspire you down this route :)

jude - Thanks for stopping in Jude!

cakespy - Yes you do! This book is his best (IMHO) his next book (Crust) he plays with a lot of the recipes but in Dough he gives straight, honest, and great tasting bread. Truly one of his best works.

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