Sunday, 9 September 2012

French Baguette

I decided we needed to have soup for tea today, mostly down to me considering my lack of vegetable intake this week due to hectic schedules and just no desire to eat them.  Also the fact that the fiancĂ© is away tomorrow night and Monday is usually soup day.  Hence Sunday had to be soup day!  And with soup comes bread, and it being a Sunday with no work meant that I could in fact make the bread myself.  

Originally I thought I'd just end up making the basic loaf or the bloomer again, because as I flicked through my book there were a lot of overly fancy flavours or things which just didn't appeal to me.  What can I say, I have a boring taste range.  But then I found the recipe for French baguettes and it all looked easy enough.  I even had all the ingredients...or I thought I did.  Turns out I didn't have plain flour so had to make a quick dash to the local shop for some.

Anyway, it was fairly successful.  I don't think it looked entirely like a French baguette.  It ended up much shinier than I think it's supposed to.  I also thought the taste wasn't quite right.  Not bad, it was still quite nice, but it didn't taste like the baguettes I'm used to.  The fiancĂ© was perfectly happy though.  He ate most of it.  I will say though, it certainly smelt like a French baguette does, so that was something at least.  I may investigate different baguette recipes at some point because I do love me some baguette.

Recipe - adapted from The Big Book of Bread 
  • 200g/7oz strong plain white flour
  • 62g/2oz plain flour
  • 1.25 tsp salt
  • 1/2 sachet (3.5g/0.125oz) yeast
  • About 170ml/6fl.oz warm water
  • 1/2 tsp cornflour
  1. Sift the flours and 3/4 tsp of salt together in a large bowl, then stir in the yeast.
  2. Add the water a bit at a time until you get a soft dough.
  3. Knead the dough on a floured surface, or inside your bowl if it is big enough, until it is smooth (about 10-15 minutes of kneading).
  4. Roll into a ball and place in an oiled bowl.  Cover and leave in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size.
  5. Punch the dough in the bowl and then turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Shape into a baguette that is about 25cm/10inches long.  Place between the folds of a pleated tea towel and cover.  Leave to rise until doubled in size.
  7. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and place a roasting dish full of water on the bottom shelf of the oven.
  8. Make a glaze for the bread by mixing the cornflour and the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt together with 1 tbsp of water.
  9. Put 65ml/2.3fl.oz of water into a small saucepan and add the cornflour mixture.  Bring the boil, stirring the whole time, and then take off the heat.  Set aside.
  10. When the baguette has risen, slide onto a baking tray which has been floured.
  11. Use a sharp knife to cut slashes into the top of the bread at even intervals.
  12. Use a pastry brush to cover the bread in a layer of the glaze.
  13. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.  Every 10 minutes add another coat of the glaze to the bread.
  14. The baguette is ready when it is brown, crisp and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  15. Cool on a wire rack.

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