Friday, January 7, 2011

French Bread Baguettes

After our trip to France, Nick and I have been obsessed with finding bread that is similar to what we had while there. Every meal in France includes a basket of bread for the table. It's amazing. And impossible to replicate. I haven't given up yet, but I don't have high hopes for finding a recipe and technique that measures up to a real French baguette. I don't want to sell this recipe short, because it was very good. The flavor was great and the texture was great, but it wasn't a French baguette. It didn't have the crusty crust or the air-pocketed interior we came to expect in our bread. As a first try, it wasn't bad and I will definitely make it again, but without the hope that it will match up to the multitude of bread we consumed in France.
French Bread Baguettes
*Bread machine recipe

1 1/8 cups water, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ (this can be found in the cereal aisle)
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Cornmeal for dusting

Place all ingredients, except cornmeal, in the order listed in your bread machine fitted with a paddle attachment. Select the dough program and push start, which will mix, knead, and allow the dough to rise.

When cycle is completed, remove the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Punch to deflate and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece of dough into a long narrow baguette and place on a baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 40 minutes in a warm place. While the baguettes rise, place a pan of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 425º.

Dust dough gently with additional flour. Using a serrated knife, make 4 diagonal slashes in each loaf, about 1/4-inch deep. Bake bread in a preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes until browned and hollow sounding when tapped. Cool on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely, slice, and enjoy!

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