Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Baguettes: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

This week in the bread baking blog, we're continuing our series on making Artisan Bread using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes' method. Today, we're making baguettes from dough that has been fermenting in the refrigerator for the past week. The long fermentation process gives the bread a wonderful flavor and chewy texture.

Do you ever have days (or weeks) when you're just too exhausted to bake? This has been one of those weeks for me. I love to bake bread and it's usually very relaxing; however, this week, I just wasn't up to it. The good thing about the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes' method is that it's really easy once you have the stored dough in the refrigerator. In fact, it took such a short amount of time to prepare and bake these baguettes that I was able to do it in the morning before work. You can't say that about too many artisan breads. This is only the second bread I've made using this method, but I like it already.



Baguettes

Makes: 1 large or 2 small loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Boule dough
  • Cornmeal for dusting the pizza peel


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. with a baking stone on the middle rack and place an empty steam pan on the bottom rack so that it doesn't interfere with the loaves rising.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. My dough was a little bit gummy to cut off (probably because it's been in the refrigerator over a week) so I just grabbed a handful of it and dusted it with more flour. That seemed to work just fine.

Shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides.  This is called the gluten cloak.




Then, begin to stretch the dough out to the desired length. Dust with more flour if necessary. It helps to roll it back and forth on a flour-dusted surface to get the desired shape. If the dough is too big for your pizza peel, like mine, make two smaller baguettes. Place the loaves on the pizza peel covered with whole wheat flour. I placed mine on parchment paper to make it easy to slide the loaf onto the baking stone.  Allow the loaves to rest for 20 minutes.





After the dough has rested, paint water over the surface of the loaf using a pastry brush. This will help prevent the knife from sticking in the dough when you make the slashes.




Slash the loaf diagonally, using a serrated knife or a lame. I like to use a lame for this. 




Slide the loaves directly onto the hot pizza stone.  Pour a cup of hot water into the broiler pan and quickly close the oven door. Then bake the loaves for about 25 minutes, or until they are deeply browned and firm to the touch.

I rotated the loaves about midway through the bake cycle to make sure they baked evenly. That seems to help especially in my oven. The loaves turned out to be a golden brown color. I should’ve baked them a little longer.

Let the loaves cool on a wire rack before cutting or eating. 

These baguettes are very tasty. Very flavorful and chewy. They actually look and taste more like batards than baguettes. That's ok by me. I love Italian bread. My taste tester also liked them and asked for more.

The shape is rather funky, but just look at those holes!





Happy Baking!
Cathy




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