Friday, February 14, 2014

Rustic Baguettes

First of all I failed.  I NEVER thought of the method that this recipe is baked with.  I have looked, and worked, and tried, and never could get it just right.  Let me explain..........

I wanted to make my own baguettes.  I wanted the crusty hard crust, the airy and perfect center, I wanted it all.  I tried a few methods, some worked "ok" but took so long.  I mean who has overnight or 18 hours to raise  bread?  No, no, no, not working for me.  I found someone who DID figure out.  Laura Vitale of Laura In The Kitchen.  This recipe is adapted from hers.  She really hit it out of the park on this recipe.  You get it all, and with a method so simple, but yet, never occurred to me.  I was sure it had to be harder than this.  I guess it doesn't matter.  SOMEONE got it, and now I can share it with you.  French baguettes were baked in steam ovens.  I wanted that crust, but couldn't quite get it right for a long time.  Now, I GOT IT!

I have a few tips and changes I think will make this better.  First of all, forget 3 baquettes, do 2.  I mean unless you WANT to, but I am going with 2 from now on. Wait, unless I am making tiny crostini and need skinny small loaves.  Anyway, I also changed the amount of flour and I think it works better. 

This is a VERY sticky dough.  DO NOT, be tempted to add more flour to make it less sticky.  This is how it should be.  These French baguettes were originally baked in steam ovens.  The water and cast iron skillet part of this recipe is not optional if you want a crusty crust, hehe, I said crusty crust.   So in case you are tempted to ask, the answer is already no!  Spoken like a true mom!

You will need
3- 3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups warm water (115 degreesISH)
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Combine warm water, sugar add yeast together and let sit for 3-5 minutes until it gets foamy on top.  In the meantime, in your stand mixer bowl, combine flour, and salt.  When the yeast is ready, add to the flour and with your dough hook attachment mix for 5-6 minutes.  It should be sticky!!!  While that is doing it's thing, oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray, a large bowl.  When the dough is done, scrape it out of the bowl and cover with a towel or saran wrap and put into a draft free warm place.  Let rise, for 1-2 hours, until it doubles in size.  THEN...........

Turn out on to a floured surface, give it a few kneads, like maybe 2 or 3 and then divide into 2 pieces.  (or 3)  Roll into about a 12 inch rope.  Tuck in to itself to even it up however you want.  The more ragged this looks the more rustic it looks!  We aren't looking for perfection here, we want nooks AND cranny's!!  You can dust your parchment with a little flour as well as the top of the bread like I did, or not.  Place on to a parchment lined baking sheet.  All the loaves will fit fine.  Cover with a lint free towel and let double in size again.  While that is happening preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  Put the top rack as high as it will go and the bottom as low as it will go.  Put a cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf.  Let it get screamin' hot as it heats up with the oven.  When the baquettes have doubled in size (or close), put on the top shelf of the oven and take 1 cup of cold water and quickly dump it into the bottom skillet and quickly shut the oven door.  DO NOT OPEN.  Bake for approx. 25-30 minutes. 

This will come out perfect.  Trust me!

One of these loaves will make awesome crostini rubbed with a raw piece of garlic for our lasagna tonight!

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