perfect french baguettes.
a) carbs: they’re pretty delicious, right?
b) baking bread: it’s pretty terrifying, right?
c) making authentic french baguettes: it’s pretty impossible at home, right?
well the answer to (a) is obvious: carbs are amazing. they’re wonderful and delicious and i love them like crazy.
(b) yes, baking bread can be scary. a lot of people have an irrational fear of working with yeast and rising dough at home. but don’t be afraid! we can do this, together.
(c) you can totally make authentic french baguettes at home! and guess what? it’s kinda simple. all you need is a little confidence and some know-how. that’s where i come in.
i learned an insane amount about baking bread this past semester in culinary school. why? well, i was taking a breads class, silly! prior to my breads class, i had baked bread at home here and there, but i never really felt comfortable doing it. working with yeast is scary! all of the punching and rising was intimidating!
have no fear, guys. i wouldn’t say i’m a bread-baking master now, but i totally know what’s up. i will help you make amazing bread.
i fell in love with baking bread, and more specifically, with baguettes. they’re so perfect. crisp on the outside, soft and dreamy on the inside. if you left me alone with a baguette, i’d probably eat the whole thing in about 5 minutes. they’re addictive. and so versatile, too!
baguettes are the foundation for nearly any crostini or bruschetta appetizer. you can make amazing croutons with stale baguettes, as well as amazing fresh breadcrumbs. baguettes are perfect slathered in thick swashes of butter, or dipped in good olive oil with plenty of herbs.
ever made a grilled cheese sandwich with a fresh baguette? or any sandwich, for that matter? oh yes. perfection.
also, we all know the best smell ever is bread baking. it’s comforting and homey and reminds us of childhood. even if your mother or grandmother never baked bread at home, there’s just something about that smell that makes us all feel warmth and love.
i will warn you that once you start making your own bread, the store-bought stuff just isn’t going to measure up anymore. you’ll turn your nose up at grocery store bread. you’re going to get snobby. you’ll scoff at $4 loaves of bread in the store and think “i could make three fresh baguettes for about $0.80!”
the taste, the sensation, the pleasure derived from enjoying bread you’ve baked yourself is unlike anything else. there’s such a wonderful sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from savoring bread that you’ve kneaded with your own hands. it’s a really beautiful thing.
i really want you to make baguettes from scratch. they’ll change your life, i pinkie-swear promise.
while you can technically bake a baguette on a regular baking sheet, the end result will be much different than if you use a baguette pan. what’s a baguette pan, you ask? it’s a nifty perforated pan which allows moisture to escape, allowing for a perfectly crisp baguette from the bottom to the top. this special pan is half the reason baguettes are so irresistible.
guess what, guys? King Arthur Flour wants you to make baguettes at home, too! i’ve teamed up with King Arthur Flour, who are generously providing a baguette pan for me to give away to one lucky reader!
King Arthur Flour is a baker’s best friend. they have such wonderful products, from bakeware to baking supplies and ingredients. from their flours to baking pans, their products are thoroughly tested and work like a dream. this Triple Baguette Baking Pan is no exception. this pan allows you to make three 16″ baguettes easily at home at one time, with professional results!
having baked baguettes in professional kitchens with expensive ovens, proof boxes and large, heavy-duty baguette pans, i can honestly say that the King Arthur Flour baguette pan makes baguettes just as well as any commercial-grade pan!
this Triple Baguette Baking Pan is crafted to last: it’s made of steel and aluminum, so it will last you for years and years of baguette-baking! also, it’s non-stick, which means that your freshly baked baguettes will slide right off the pan each time. this is definitely a pan that’s built well and made to last you a lifetime.
so, do you want to make amazing, authentic French baguettes at home? sure you do!
i know you want to win this wonderful Triple Baguette Pan from King Arthur Flour, so here’s the low-down on how to enter!
how to enter
go visit King Arthur Flour’s website and leave a comment here telling me which of their products you would be most interested in trying out! it can be a cool baking ingredient, bakeware, appliances…just come back here and leave a comment saying which King Arthur Flour product you’d love to try! please be specific and write the full product title in the comment!
the giveaway will be open from 10am EST on Monday, September 12, 2011 and will close on Sunday, September 18th at 8pm EST. i’ll use Random.org to choose a winner, and i will announce the winner on my blog, on Twitter and on Facebook on Monday, September 19th at 10am EST.
the winner will have 48 hours to contact me through e-mail (foodpluswords [at] gmail [dot] com) or the contact form on this site with their full name, e-mail address and physical address so they can receive their Triple Baguette Baking Pan. if the winner doesn’t contact me by Wednesday, September 21st by 10am EST, i will draw a new winner.
want extra entries?
- follow @foodpluswords on Twitter, and leave a comment saying “i follow @foodpluswords on Twitter!” with your Twitter handle!
- follow @KingArthurFlour on Twitter, and and leave a comment saying “i follow @kingarthurflour on Twitter!” with your Twitter handle!
- tweet about this giveaway, and leave the link to your tweet in a comment! you can use this sample tweet: food + words is giving away a @kingarthurflour Triple Baguette Pan! enter to win here: http://bit.ly/qoNAGYE via @foodpluswords #giveaway
- become a fan of food + words on Facebook, and leave a comment saying “i like food + words on Facebook!” and write your first name and last initial in the comment!
- become a fan of King Arthur Flour on Facebook, and leave a comment saying “i like King Arthur Flour on Facebook!” and write your first name and last initial in the comment!
- click the “like” button at the bottom of this giveaway post and leave a comment with your first name and last initial!
- subscribe to the food + words via RSS feed or e-mail!
- join the King Arthur Flour Newsletter, and leave a comment saying you joined the newsletter with your first name and last initial!
- join the King Arthur Flour Baking Circle online community, and leave a comment with your Baking Circle Screen Name!
be sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry opportunity!
good luck, and happy baguette baking!
disclaimer: i received a Triple Baguette Baking Pan from King Arthur Flour to test and review. i was not provided any compensation. my opinions of the product are my own.
perfect french baguettes
Yield: 3 baguettes
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
17 ounces | 3 3/4 cups bread flour
0.34 ounces | 2 teaspoons kosher salt
0.13 ounces | 2 1/2 teaspoons (about 1 and 1/4 packets) instant dry yeast
10 ounces | 1 1/4 cups warm water (98-105 degrees F)
preparing the dough
in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the bread flour and kosher salt.
pour the yeast into the warm water and stir it around gently with your finger. allow to stand for 3 minutes.
pour the yeast and water into the stand mixer bowl, and scrape out as much of the yeast that may cling to the sides of the bowl as you can with your finger.
turn the mixer on medium-low (speed 4), and allow to mix for 2 minutes.
after 2 minutes, scrape down the sides of the mixer with a plastic bowl scraper, and turn the mixer on medium (speed 6). allow to mix for 4 minutes.
the mixer will probably make a lot of noise and could be moving around and jumping a bit, so keep your eye on it!
after the 4 minutes is up, turn the mixer off. grab a small piece of dough, about the size of a gumball and roll it around in a ball in your hands. flatten the ball and gently pull on the edges with your fingers. you're checking the elasticity of the dough. if the dough immediately tears in half or rips, place the small ball back in with the rest of the dough and mix on speed 6 for 1-2 more minutes.
do the gumball test again: what we're looking for is a smooth, elastic pliable dough. hold the dough up to the light as you stretch it--you want to be able to see through it, and there should be faint lines in the dough. these are the gluten strands that will hold your dough together. if you see them and the dough isn't ripping or tearing, it's ready.
turn the large dough mass onto a floured surface (i like working on a wood cutting board) and cover with plastic wrap. you want to keep as much air out as possible. i like to also throw a kitchen towel on top of the dough mass to help it stay warm so it will grow.
leave this dough mass undisturbed until it doubles in size. for me it's about 30 minutes, but here's how to test if it's ready to work with.
place a small amount of flour on your pointer finger knuckle. lift the plastic wrap off the dough ball and lightly press the floured knuckle into the dough and remove your knuckle--if the dough holds the knuckle shape and springs back very slowly, it's ready to work.
punching & scaling the dough
punch the dough down! no, we're not going to actually punch it, but rather fold and press it into the work surface to remove air bubbles. knead it for about 1 minute, folding the dough into itself and onto the work surface, pressing out air bubbles along the edges of the dough.
using your kitchen scale and a sharp knife (i like a bench knife!), measure the dough into three equal portions. they should weigh around 9 ounces each.
place the heels of your hands together to make a 'V' with your hands. place a ball of dough in the bottom of the 'V' and gently push the ball of dough forwards and into the work surface. this is called rounding. bring the dough ball back to where you started and push the ball again with the heels of your hands in the 'V' shape a few more times, about 10-15 until your ball is round, smooth and elastic.
repeat with remaining dough balls.
once all the balls are formed, cover loosely with the plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
shaping the baguettes
time to shape our baguettes! take your dough ball and flatten it into a round circle, kind of like a pizza dough. press out the air bubbles along the edges of the dough with the heels of your hands.
grab the bottom of the flat circle and bring it into the center of the circle, squeezing to seal it up. continue squeezing and rolling up the dough until you've formed a little dough log.
roll the dough log over and, starting at one end, pull the edges of the dough into the log and pinch to seal the seam. do this the entire length of the dough log, from one end to another until there is one continuous seam.
roll the dough log over again, and using your hands starting in the center of the log, slowly and gently roll the dough outwards, moving your hands away from one another until you reach the end. make sure the seam stays on the bottom! the dough should be uniform in thickness throughout, and you'll want it to be about 14-16" long.
once the log is rolled out, place it seam side down onto the baguette pan. repeat with remaining dough balls until all baguettes are formed.
time to rise! since i don't have a fancy proof box, i let my baguettes rise in the microwave.
take a cup of very hot water and place it in the back of the microwave. place the baguette pan in the microwave and shut the door.
allow the baguettes to proof for anywhere from 35-50 minutes, until they've puffed up and doubled in size.
scoring, spraying and baking
preheat the oven to 425 degrees F, with a rack in the center of the oven.
remove the baguettes from the microwave. time to score them!
i like to use a razorblade for this, but you can use a very sharp paring knife if you'd like to do that.
score 5 deep slices diagonally down the length of the baguettes--don't be afraid to go deep! it's best if you can get a cut that's between 1/4"-1/2" deep.
since i don't have a fancy oven that is steam-injected, i spray each baguette liberally with water using a cheap spray bottle. don't be afraid to really douse them with water!
place the baguettes in the oven and bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown and delicious. they make be ready sooner than that, but we're looking for a lovely golden brown color, and an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees F.
when the baguettes are done, remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes before enjoying!
enjoying and storing
the baguettes are best eaten fresh, about 4-6 hours after baking, but they will last stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
make sure to not put them in a plastic bag or plastic container until they are fully cooled, since the humidity from the hot baguette being trapped in a plastic container will ruin them!
they're best stored in a paper grocery bag, actually. it's tres french!