Monday, June 13, 2011

The Quick French Baguette

There are few things so wonderful as a couple of hot, steamy, crispy, crunchy, crackly, tasty, tender, french inspired baguettes.  Sadly, in order to attain this nirvana you've had to start days ahead.  I don't know about you but I'm never inspired enough to think of something 3 days before I'm going to want to eat it, also I don't have that sort of patience.

I have this delicious go-to on days that I'm home and feel the need for some crispy crunchy tender warm deliciousness that needs to be slathered with cold butter, have a slice of old cheddar on it and a large glass of wine.  Go on, I'll share it with you.  It's a different creature all together than my go-to ciabatta that I make a couple of times a week, this is thicker, heartier, softer and harder at the same time.  This takes about 4 hours but you only need be involved a small percentage of the time, it merely needs you to pop in periodically to check on it and voila, you're a bread producing rock star! 

Tracy's One Day Cuisinart Baguette

in a small bowl, combine: 

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
mix with a fork and leave it aside to foam and bubble and do it's yeasty thing. 

In the bowl of a cuisinart (fitted with the blade) combine: 

3 1/2 cups a/p flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tablespoon sugar (OK already purists, sure a "proper" baguette doesn't have sugar but this isn't a proper baguette, it's my quicker, lovelier, tastier distant cousin)

Add 1 cup of warm water to the bubbly yeast, stir and add in a gentle but steady stream into the cuisinart as it blends.  Let it go until the mixture comes together in a blob and clears the side of the bowl, 30-45 seconds? 

Replace the feed tube and walk away.  When the dough has risen to fill the bowl (1 hour) pulse the dough 4 times to deflate.  When the dough has risen to fill the bowl (45 mins this time) pulse the dough 4 times to deflate.  When the dough has risen to fill the bowl (35 mins) pulse once to deflate and remove to a lightly dusted (with flour) board and bring together in a loose, soft, ball.

Divide dough into 3 and shape each into a long baguette shaped loaf.  I lay mine on a floured towel to rise about 30 minutes. 

Bake at 450 on a stone in a heavily steamy oven.  Put a container of water in the oven while it heats and mist the loaves before you bake them, about 20-28 minutes. 

Leave on a rack to cool for as many minutes as you can stand.  Rip into it. 

Make more.  Repeat

Here's the beauty shots and play by play: 



After one hour, look at the rise!  Pulse to deflate and leave it 45 minutes or until it fills the bowl
Rise number 2, very full bowl, again pulse a couple of times to deflate

Last rise.  Each time it takes less time, this was 35 minutes.

Tip it onto a board, you can see it's gooey and wants to stick to your hands, keep the flouring light, we don't want to make heavy bread, just barely enough to keep it from sticking. Bring it together as a lovely soft ball and divide into 3

Flatten each ball to an oval, fold the top third down and pinch, the bottom third up and pinch.  Press the heel  of your palm into the seam to seal it and pull up the sides to pinch together.  Roll it back and forth a few times, taper the ends a bit and leave it covered, on a floured surface, to rise while the oven heats.

I was trying to be artsy and left this batch to rise on a floured towel, it worked great but if you don't feel like trying to wash the flour out of a towel, you can just leave it to rise on any old floured surface.  I let it rise 45 minutes and it got puffy and wobbly, we love puffy and wobbly. 
Bake until it's beautiful, 20-28 minutes, leave to cool on a rack for a bit and either rip it open or cut it, your call but either way, you're gonna love this!!!

these are purely beauty shots :)


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