I always try to eat delicious food. Unfortunately I don't have that much money, so I have to cook a lot of it at home. But thats OK because I love cooking and I love eating at home with my wife. This is a website with my favorite recipes and a little bit of commentary.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Ultimate Baguettes

This is a very complicated process. There are a lot of steps and everything listed is important. There is also some special equipment needed but its cheap and available at Wal Mart. When you are measuring out flour be sure not to scoop directly out of the bag. Instead use a tablespoon and fill cups that way. It is preferable to use a scale so I will list the weights too.

6 cups (27 ounces) bread flour
2 t sea salt
2 t rapid rise yeast
2 1/4 cups ice cold water (water with ice floating in it)

Combine all ingredients in a mixer and stir for a couple minutes. Switch over to a bread hook and kneed it for 5 minutes or so. The dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides. You may need to add a little bit more ice cold water if the bottom of the dough isn't sticking to the bowl, or a little more flour if the sides of the dough are sticking as well. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover plastic wrap and throw into the fridge overnight.

The next day 3 to 4 hours before you want to bake the bread take the bowl out of the fridge and let rise until double in size. It may take 2 or 3 hours. When it has doubled in size flour a counter top and transfer the dough to the countertop. Try not to let all of the gas out of the dough. Using a metal pastry scraper cut the dough into 6 equal portions and let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile turn a cookie sheet upside down and put a piece of baking parchment on top. Sprinkle it with flour or semolina pasta flour (preferred). Preheat the oven to 550 with a baking stone 2 racks up from the bottom. On a rack above the pastry stone put a cast iron skillet.
While it is preheating stretch each piece of dough out into a baguette. Place each baguette on the parchment/cookie sheet setup. You may need more than 1 cookie sheet. Spray the top of the baguettes with spray oil and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let rise 15 to 30 minutes when the oven is preheating. Next take 1 cup of water and heat it to a simmer on the stove. Cut 7 slashes in the top of each baguette using a razor blade. Transfer one baking parchment sheet of baguettes from the cookie sheet to the baking stone. Put the cup of water into the cast iron skillet, creating a blast of steam. Close the door and wait 30 seconds. Spray the inside of the oven with water, close the door. Repeat 2 more times. Then lower the temperature to 475 and bake for about 10 minutes. Rotate the baguettes 180 degrees and bake 10 to 15 minutes longer until they are golden brown. Remove and cool on a cooling sheet until room temperature. Return the oven to 550 degrees and bake the next sheet of baguettes. Repeat this process until all the baguettes are baked.