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Homemade Baguettes – One of the Finer Things in Life

Posted By Jessica Fisher On April 17, 2009 @ 3:04 am In Baking,Breads & Baked Goods,Recipes | 21 Comments

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During my junior year in college, I lived and studied in Bordeaux, France. As a French Literature major, it was really necessary to know what I was talking about – literally. It was an experience of a lifetime.

I rented a small studio apartment, cooked all my own meals, shopped daily in quaint little shops, and enjoyed all the good food that France had to offer. Once of those very fine things [5] was the baguette. It is integral to the French way of life – a beautiful loaf of truly French bread, crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.

Over the past two years as I’ve weaned myself from expensive bakery purchases, I’ve started to do more baking. And learning to make a baguette has proved to be a wonderful thing. The only problem is that it doesn’t last long!

Look! Doesn’t that look beautiful?

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The recipe I’ve used is one from What’s Cooking?–A Cookbook for Kids [7] (based on the fantastic film Ratatouille [8]). I’ve adapted the recipe to go into my bread machine [9] since I’m all thumbs when it comes to making dough any other way.

Classic Baguette

1 1/2 cups water
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Place ingredients in bread pan in the order directed by your machine’s manufacturer. Set bread machine for dough cycle.

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Butter a baguette pan [11]. These are perforated bread pans that are specially shaped to give the baguette its characteristic shape.

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Don’t let the dough rise too long or it will stick to the top of your machine. Ask me how I know.

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Remove dough to a floured surface. Preheat oven to 425F. Divide dough into two equal pieces and shape each piece into a long, snake-like loaf.

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Place each snake on half of the baguette pan.

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Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

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With a sharp knife, cut three slashes diagonally across the top of the loaves.

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I saw on Food Network that putting a stone in your oven would regulate heat. I did that this time as well as added a pan of hot water as directed in the recipe. This worked out great in that the crust was superb.

(However, the stone cracked right down the middle and broke in two pieces. I’m not quite sure why that was. So, my recommendation is to not set the pan of hot water on top of your stone. Side by side is good, methinks. I’ve had a report of another stone cracking with the steam pan in the same oven. So, let’s not put the steam pan in an oven with a baking stone. Not sure why this is. Anyone?)

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Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

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This is best enjoyed the day it is baked. Bon appetit!


For more fine things, visit Finer Things Friday [5].


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