Its a Baguette-elle

The quintessential French bread. So many ways to make these your own – and this is mine:

burstlowres1

Makes 7 or 8 depending on how big you like them.

250g leaven
400g white flour
50g rye flour
275g water
10g salt
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
fine semolina

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
knead
rest for 10
knead
rest for 45 (note the timing change)
knead
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

baguettecouchelow

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.

dinner

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5 responses to “Its a Baguette-elle

  1. Quick question: If I wanted to make these to have with lunch on Sunday so wanted to make the dough on Saturday night and put it in the fridge overnight, at what point would I put it in the fridge? When I’d made the dough or when I’d kneaded it a couple of times? Thanks

    • give it around 20g more water than the recipe suggests (the bread bit, not the leaven itself). give it the kneads and then cover tightly with cling wrap and put in the fridge overnight. in the morning, take it out, give it a knead then leave it out (covered) for 30 mins in a bowl which is at room temp. then shape your baguettes and leave them to prove – they may need about 3 hours proving, it depends how cold your fridge is, how warm the kitchen is, and what atmospheric conditions are like. make sure you really flour your couche well, and flour the tops of the baguettes well too. also ensure that theyre covered with a tea towel to stop a skin forming on the dough.

  2. Madam’s now having one with jam, and making me cut it for her. I am obliging naturally, because I am under the thumb.

  3. Cheers MrsB – dead easy to make though. The end result looks and tastes far more impressive than the effort required. Still finishing the rest of it whilst typing. ‘mazin, ohhhh yes. Head’s a bit warm from the chilli though

  4. that looks amazing.

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