“A finished baguette should have a rich, russet crust, crackling and fragrant- don’t underestimate the virtue of a bold bake.”
– Jeffrey Hamelman
People often ask me why I chose to specialize in pastry instead of savory cooking. My answer? Baguette. I may spend a lot of time designing elaborate and unusual plated desserts, but I truly believe that there is nothing more elegant than classic, rustic, hand-made bread. With a few simple ingredients and techniques a Baker (pun intended) can create an amazing sensory experience. Bread reacts greatly to minimal changes in temperature, humidity, and ingredients, making it even more demanding and precise than delicate pastries. I previously established that I love baguette; now I offer my new favorite recipe for that classic loaf.
- 1 kilogram unbleached bread flour
- 715 grams water
- 22 grams salt
- 9 grams instant yeast
- Combine the flour and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and gently fold together until hydrated.
- Allow to sit for 20 minutes undisturbed.
- Fold once more and add the salt and yeast separate from each other.
- Using a dough hook attachment, mix at medium speed for 5 minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky when touched.
- Remove from the bowl and place in a lightly greased container and cover with cloth.
- Allow to sit for an hour, then fold the dough onto itself until you have make the bottom of the dough the top inside the bowl.
- Repeat this process again.
- Portion this dough gently into 375 gram masses and round them so they have a smooth, even surface.
- Cover again with the cloth and let rest for 15 minutes to relax the dough.
- Shape the dough into baguettes and allow to proof for 40 minutes at room temperature. The baguettes should be bloated and firm, but yield to the touch.
- Score with a sharp knife along the crest of the bread to allow for expansion.
- Finally, bake this bread in a 475F oven with initial steam, for about 30 minutes. If you don't have a steam injected oven, simply spray the bread with water using a squirt bottle. Spray the sides of the oven or use ice cubes to create more steam.
- Let the bread darken significantly; if you remove it from the oven when it is golden-brown it will grow limp and tough after it has cooled. Darker bread will equate to a better crust and much more developed flavor.
- Allow to cool at room temperature at least 10 minutes before using.
- Serve fresh, as this bread will go stale after a day.