French baguettes


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French baguettes

  1. 1. Outside France you might know thebaguette as a french stick.This gourmet food recipe is up toa meter long but only about four -five centimeters in diameter), Thisis a staple food, and the baguette isa veritable symbol of France.Baguettes are perfect forsandwiches - cut a baguette in half,then slice each half along themiddle, and are also eaten forbreakfast (usually with jam orchocolate spread). If you dunk yourchocolate-spread covered slice of baguette in your bowl of hot chocolate, you willbe close to the French experience!A loaf the same length as a baguette but thicker (about 8-10 centimetresdiameter) is known as a pain and a thin version of the baguette is known as aficelle. It is pain that is more usually served in restaurants, or one of the largertypes of loaf available. Even within France there is a very big difference between atraditional baguette and a supermarket baguette.Try if at all possible to track down a local baker that makes the former. It is hardto describe the difference visually, but the traditional loaf will smell much morestrongly of bread, the crust will tend to be darker, the interior is cream colourrather than white and the interior texture is much less consistent. The former isinfinitely more pleasurable than the latter!
  2. 2. I have been successfully baking different types of breads on and off, but I willdescribe here how I make French baguettes which are a favorite of mine andmillions of others around the world!For best results you should first equip yourself with a powerful stand mixer formixing and kneading the dough, a balance to weigh the exact quantities called bythe recipe, a wooden board to work on unless you already have a woodencounter, a piece of cloth (about 15 X 15 inches) to help the dough rise, and abaking sheet (about 15 X 15 inches).IngredientsThe following ingredients are enough to make about 2 pounds of dough whichcan produce four baguettes, half a pound each. 1 1/4 lbs (20 ounces) of flour (see Note). 3/4 lb (12 ounces) of water (water quantity should be about 60% of theflour weight). 1 table spoon of yeast. half a table spoon of salt.Note: The best French baguettes are made using Type 55 flour which is hard toget in the US. The regular bread flour you get at the supermarket is too strong forFrench baguettes. If you cannot find Type 55 flour, try mixing some all-purposeflour into bread flour (1 part of all-purpose flour for 3 parts of bread flour). Usealways unbleached bread flour, it has the gluten to make a firm crispy crust forbaguette.
  3. 3. Method of PreparationStep 1. Mixing and kneadingAdd the flour and the water into the bowl of the stand mixer and turn on themachine to start the hook mixing and kneading the dough. As the dough startstaking the shape of a ball, add the salt and let it run for another 5 minutes until anice supple ball is obtained.Two important points to observe in this step: First, do not use cold water. Warmwater or water at room temperature is best. Second, add just the right amount ofwater necessary to the flour, no more, no less. In general, the amount of waterrequired is 60% of the weight of the flour, but this may vary a little depending onthe quality of the flour and the ability of the flour to absorb water. So be carefulnot to add too much water. It is better to start with a bit less water than what therecipe specifies, and add a few drops more later if the dough is not supple enough(note that if the dough gets too soft because of too much water, you cannotcorrect it by adding more flour later as it then becomes difficult to work with).Step 2. Letting the dough rise a first timeCover the bowl with the piece of cloth, and place it away from drafts. Let thedough rise until the volume is doubled.Step 3. Dividing the dough into ballsPlace the dough on the floured board and start kneading by hand to get rid of anyair that might be trapped in. Cut the dough into four smaller balls. Try to makeperfectly round balls and cover them with a light layer of flour. For even cookingof all the baguettes, it is good to weigh the balls so that they are of equal weight.The recipe should make 4 balls, about half a pound (or 250 gram) each. This willmake four baguettes.Let the bread balls stand for about 15 minutes on the floured board, covered withthe cloth.
  4. 4. Step 4. Shaping the balls into baguettesTake each ball and press it using your fist and wrist to stretch, and then fold theelongated dough three times. Do this several times and finish by rolling theresulting dough into the shape of a stick or baguette.Step 5. Letting the dough rise a second timeSpread out the piece of cloth on the counter, cover it with a light layer of flour,and shape it into four parallel tube like trenches. Place each stick of dough intoone of these trenches. Keep them there until the baguettes double up in volume.Step 6. BakingPreheat the oven to 450 °F (230 °C). Place the baking sheet in the middle of theoven (halfway from the top or bottom). Make four diagonal (oblique) incisions oneach baguette with a sharp knife, sprinkle them with flour, and place them on thebaking sheet. Place inside the oven a noncombustible bowl containing half a cupof water (on the bottom). This will help the baguettes get crusty and airy givingthem a texture found in bakery baguettes. Bake the baguettes for about 25minutes or until they are golden brown. Take them out of the oven and let themcool before serving.Bon appétit!The author lives in Montreal. He worked for many years as a professionalengineer for a major telecommunication company. He has written and publishedon various platforms many articles on technology and gadgets, healthy living andgourmet cooking.Article Source: