Monday, January 20, 2014

Rosie Makes Baguettes.

I love making bread.
It's calming.
It's earthy.
It's grounding.
It's primitive.
And it's only four ingredients:
water, yeast, flour, and salt.
It's amazing and magical how four simple ingredients
can turn into something so wonderful.
It's bread.
It's the staff of life.

Baquette Loaves
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Pour water into large bowl and pour yeast in.  Sprinkle sugar over top and stir to dissolve.  Let sit until yeast gets foamy.  Stir in flour with a fork until a dough forms and flour is absorbed.  Let sit 20-30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate.  Add salt, then transfer to a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 15-20 minutes.  Gather dough into a ball and transfer to lightly greased bowl.  Cover and let dough rest until doubled.

Punch down and transfer to a lightly floured surface.  Shape into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle.  Fold the short sides towards the middle and return seam side down to bowl.  Cover and let sit until doubled.

Place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack and a baking stone on the rack above.  Heat oven to 475°.

Cut dough into three equal pieces and form each into 14" rope.  Flour a sheet of parchment paper and place each loaf, evenly spaced, on top.  Lift up parchment paper between loaves and tuck in two tightly rolled kitchen towels, creating support for the loaves.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let double. 

Uncover, remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves.  Using a sharp knife, slash the top of each baguette.  Slide baguettes and paper onto baking stone and throw the ice cubes in the skillet.    Bake about 30 minutes, until baguettes are browned and crisp.

I poured 1 1/2 cups of warm water
 over a packet of yeast in a large bowl.
I sprinkled just a little bit of sugar in and stirred to dissolve.
And waited.

You must wait for the yeast to "proof."
It has to "prove" it's alive.
That's why I put the sugar in there -
so the yeast would have something to eat.
When the mixture is all poofy,
you know the yeast is good.
If it doesn't get bubbly, throw it out and start over.

Add 3 1/4 cups bread flour,
stirring with a fork until dough forms.

When the dough just comes together
and all the flour is absorbed,
leave it alone for 20 minutes.
Allow the dough to hydrate - a process known as autolysis.

Now, what is autolysis, you ask?
Autolysis refers to the process of a cell
destroying itself by its own enzymes.
Amylase and protease are the enzymes in flour,
Amylase converts the starches to sugars.
Protease reforms the protein as gluten.

When you knead dough, you do the same thing,
eventually forming gluten.
 However, when you knead dough, 
you expose it to oxygen,
which results in over-oxidized dough.
Over-oxidation results in flavor and color loss in the finished product.
And inferior bread.

Letting the flour, water, and yeast autolyse on its own
gives the same developed gluten,
but without the oxidation effects - tastelessness and paleness.
An autolyze gives the flour time to soak up the moisture.
This gives you a more "orderly gluten formation."
And that's a good thing.

The end result in allowing the dough to rest before kneading
is that it will have a better texture and will taste better.

'nuf said.

 After the rest, hydration, and autolyzation,
I kneaded the hell outta this dough.
Set your timer!
Fifteen minutes is a lot longer than you think
 when you're kneading dough.
Merrily knead away for 15-20 minutes,
lightly dusting additional flour as needed.

Place into oiled bowl, turning to coat.

Let rise, quietly, until well-plumped.

Flour a fist and give the dough a bold punch-down.
Go for it!

Roll out the dough and shape into a 6 x 8 inch rectangle.
Fold the short sides toward the center.

Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl.
Let double in size.

Punch down!

Divide dough into three equal pieces.

Shape each piece into a 14 inch roll.

Place each roll on parchment paper
and tuck a tightly rolled kitchen towel under long edges,
creating support for the loaves.

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over loaves,
cover with plastic, and let double in size.

Using a sharp knife, slash tops of each baguette.

Freshly ground Kosher salt and pepper on top.

I put an iron skillet in the oven on the bottom rack and heated it to 425°.
Put the loaves on the top rack.

Throw a cup of ice cubes in the skillet.
This creates steam, allowing the bread to rise more 
before it forms a crust.
Bake the baguettes about 30 minutes, until browned and crisp.

Give it some butter-lovin'.

There's nothing better than warm bread
right out of the oven with melted butter.

It amazes me every time I bake bread -
only four ingredients and you get something
 that tastes as wonderful as this.
You really can't beat homemade bread.

Heavenly buttered toasts!


Rocquie said...


Rosie Hawthorne said...

Thank you! I love making bread. I have a few bread recipes I want to make but I have to be in the right frame of mind. They require a 10-day fermentation period, where you add something and do something to it every day. That takes commitment and I might end up being committed.

Tammy said...

Oh Rosie, I cannot wait to try this! :D
I've never made my own baguettes. Who knew is was so simple too?!

I will certainly try. Thank you for sharing.


Rosie Hawthorne said...

Tammy, I hope you make this. Homemade bread is simple to do and so wonderful. Remember, always proof your yeast!