The quintessential French bread. So many ways to make these your own – and this is mine:
Makes 7 or 8 depending on how big you like them.
400g white flour
50g rye flour
You’ll also need a linen “couche” (or do what I do and use a linen tablecloth or linen napkins, on the sly of course else I’ll get a bollocking)
2 stiff pieces of card at least 12 inches long by 10 inches wide, or a wooden peel
Combine all the above ingredients and cover with a tea towel
time for 10 mins
knead for 10 seconds (you know the drill by now, right?)
rest for 10
rest for 10
rest for 45 (note the timing change)
rest for an hour
flour your worksurface lightly and then weigh your dough. With a sharp knife, divide it into equal size pieces and form into balls. cover and leave for 10 mins.
flour your worksurface again, and taking each ball in turn, flatten it out into a disc. Fold the far edge into the middle and press down. Then take the nearest edge to you and fold that to the middle to meet the other edge. Press down well. Then take each side, bring it together and turn the dough onto its side so you can squeeze both sides together with the edge of your hand – alsmot like you’re going to give it a karate chop, but just press down firmly.
Think back to when you were a child and you were making playdoh sausages. Put one hand in the middle of the dough as it sits left to right, and roll back and forth. As it starts to grow lengthways use two hands and give it a help so you roll it back and forth applying lateral pressure to make it longer. make sure you make each end quite pointed.
Put your linen couche on a tray and flour it well, rubbing the flour in all over. Place your first baguette near the edge and draw up the linen, supporting it with something like a carving knife or whatever else. If you have a tray with a lip, the lip can act as the support. Then make a pleat next to your first baguette, drawing up the linen, and place your next one on it, and so on
flour the tops and give them a bit of a rub, then cover with a tea cloth and leave for around 90 mins, or until they double in size. After the first hour, turn your oven on to 240c, make sure your baking stone or upturned trays are already in there.
When they’ve doubled, gently roll/cajole each one on to your piece of stiff cardboard which you ve generously dusted with semolina. try to get them to line up so they are end-first as you put them in the oven. You might need two cards for this. Slash the tops of the baguettes diagonally with a razor blade. Be confident but not jerky. I usually do about 4-5 slashes. Go in about 2-3mm, no more. Try not to “drag” the dough when you do this. Give them a good spray with your water mister.
Then quickly open the oven and give it a really good misting with water – 4 or 5 pumps should do it
Whoosh your baguettes into the oven (if you’re in doubt, look at the fougasse page and there’s a video). Shut the oven door and leave for 5 mins. Open the door quickly and mist again – about 5 pumps, then shut the door and cook for a further 15 minutes.
The addition of the rye gives a great nuttiness to the bread, and a fantastic, chewy crust.
Brilliant with strong cheddar, and tomato/chilli relish. Like my dinner for example. Oh yes.