I was introduced and fell in love with crusty baguettes a long time ago through a friend of mine who loved them with good sharp cheese and red wine. When I discovered that our local grocery stores actually sell par-baked baguettes at their bakery; these breads became a staple at our house. All we needed was to warm it up in the oven prior to serving and we will be delighted with crusty bread with soft interior at meal times. Since we love it so much, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I had to try my hand in making my own homemade baguettes.
The recipe that I used here was taken from one of the best books out there for bread making, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you have not had the opportunity to read it, I’d recommend it very highly. It is a great bible so to speak for aspiring bakers, because it really simplifies the mistery of bread baking. The dough used here is boule, and it is so versatile since it can actually be used for baguette, ciabatta, and foccacia to name a few.
You can also par-bake this bread: bake them to about 90% of its regular baking time (in this case, about 25 mins), then cool it off on the rack, and freeze them as soon as they’re cooled. When you’re ready to enjoy them, just defrost them to room temperature and warm them up at 350 degree for about 8-10 min. Happy eating!
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Boule Dough (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)
This recipe makes (4) 1-lb loaf
3 cups lukewarm water, about 100 deg
1-1/2 tbsp granualated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tbsp kosher salt or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour
Add yeast and salt to the warm water in at least a 5-qt capacity bowl. You don’t need to get them all dissolved by mixing.
Add all of the flour at once and mix using a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook until the mixture is uniform. It should not take more than a few minutes at the most, until everything is uniformly mixed. The dough should be wet and loose.
Cover with a plastic wrap or clean cloth, and let it sit at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. Leave this dough overnight in the refrigerator. (Up till this step, this dough can be refrigerated up to 14 days in lidded, not airtight, container. If you plan on using it at a later time, the dough should be stored in the freezer). The storage time also has been said to improve the flavor.
1 lb dough of boule
1 tbsp of whole wheat flour
Place a baking stone in the middle rack of your oven. Heat the oven to 450 degree.
Using regular flour, shape the dough into 2-inch diameter cylinder by elongating it with back and forth rolling motion.
You can make this into two small loaves, or one large one. Make sure that if you choose a large one, it will fit on your baking stone. I actually made 3 medium sized loaves from 2-lb of dough.
Place the loaves on a pizza peel covered with the whole wheat flour. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
After the dough rests, glaze the top of loaves with water using a pastry brush. Make slits on top of the loaves using serrated bread knife. Then transfer the loaves directly onto the hot baking stone.
Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray or a regular pie pan, and quickly close the oven over. Bake about 25 mins or until browned.
Cool on a rack before cutting or eating.