Thursday, 20 August 2015

Baguettes

Baguettes

Wow, we're already at week 3 of GBBO!  I can't believe how fast these few weeks have flown by, though don't you find that when you get a little older.  'Tempus Fugit' as my father-in-law would have said!  This week, the bakers faced the bread challenges.  They started with quick breads, then onto Paul's technical challenge of baguettes and climaxing with their 3D showstopper bread creation.  Wasn't Paul's lion amazing - right down to the whiskers and almond claws!


Our blue-eyed boy

And as we're talking about cats, I thought we'd have a slight detour and share a snap of our blue-eyed boy with you!  He's such a mummy's boy!

Back to the baking....I was sooo pleased to have received one of the Great Blogger Bake Off 'Star Baker' badges last week (for my Arlette bake) I decided to square up to the technical bake again and challenge myself with baking baguettes - just how difficult can it be? *Nervous chuckle!  I do enjoy making bread, the smell is beautiful, though I'm not always successful.

Baguettes


So, the baguette.  The Great British Bake Off episode explained  that it should have a crisp crust which is achieved through the use of steam in the oven.  It has an open texture, though less so than ciabattaThis is done through having quite a soft loose dough mixture (high water content) and by not knocking the mixture back after its first prove.

From the GBBO Celebrations book, accompanying series 6, I learnt that this dough is handled gently after the first prove and isn't knocked back.  The plastic container which the contestants were supplied with helps the dough to form an oblong shape which is then harnessed to form the traditional baguette stick. The dough is gently shaped into long sausages before their second prove, and are laid between folds of strong linen (baker's couche) to help the bread keep its shape during the second prove.  The baguettes are then baked at a high temperature with steam, which creates the desired crusty casing. 

Baguettes

Being a regular home baker, I don't have a 'baker's couche', so I improvised by using 2 tea-towels.  I laid one on top of the other to help give the tea-towel a little more strength and structure.  I then sat a chopping board on one of the short ends of the tea-towel to help keep it in place.  I repeated this on the other side once all of the baguettes had been shaped.  I also don't have one of those dinky blades which the bakers used to create the slashes on the top of the baguettes - so I simply re-sharpened one of our kitchen knives and used that - I'll get the plasters out now as I usually end up cutting a finger or two soon after sharpening the knives! ;-)

Post Script: Since making these baguettes, Mr E & I have come across these baguette trays in Sainsburys (though I'm sure other shops with baking sections would house similar things).  As they're made of a metal, the dough can be shaped and proved and then popped straight in the oven without the need to transfer them to a baking sheet as when using a baker's couche (or tea towels as I used).

Baguettes in the making

Baguettes in the making

Baguettes in the making

And the result?  Yes, they do look like a baguette with a crisp crust and irregular shaped air pockets within.  However, they certainly aren't 'perfect', such as the slashes across the top - I think it would have been better to use an actual baker's specific tool for that.  As they say, practice makes perfect.  However, for a first attempt I'm more than happy with the result - and they taste pretty damn good too, which, let's face it, is main thing!

Baguettes





So let's get to it and bake.


Baguettes       Yum

Yield: 4 baguette sticks 
Serves: 4 adults
Difficulty: Moderate - Difficult
Freezable: Yes
Time: hands on time 25 minutes; plus proving time of about 2 hours; 20 - 25 minutes bake time.

You will need:

1 oblong / square Plastic Container (c 2.5L capacity)
Bakers Couche or 2 clean tea towels 
Baking Sheet
Grease Proof paper
Sided Roasting Tin
Very Sharp Knife

For the Dough

500g Strong White Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
10g Fast Action Easy Bake Yeast
10g Salt
370ml tepid Water
Olive Oil for greasing

How to make them:

1.  Make the dough.  Place the flour in a good sized bowl, with the yeast to one side and the salt to the other.  Combine the dry ingredients with your hand.  Make a well in the centre and pour in 3/4 of the water.  Using your hand, mix the flour with the liquid, adding more water to make a fairly loose dough.  You should need all of the water.  Bring the dough together, cleaning the bowl as you do so.  Place the dough onto a clean work surface and knead for 10 - 12 minutes, avoid adding any extra flour.  The dough will become stretchy, soft and silky.  Perform the 'window pane' test to ensure the dough has been kneaded enough.

2.  Set aside to rise.  Place the dough in the oiled plastic container.  Cover it and set aside until it has  at least doubled in size.  The length of time this take depends on the temperature of the room, though ours took just over an hour.  Try not to rush this process, as the slower rise will develop more flavour.

3.  Prepare the baker's couche.  Lay the baker's couche (or clean tea-towels laid on top of one another) on the work surface near to where you are going to shape the bread.  Dust liberally with flour.  Lay a chopping board (or similar) along one of the short ends to prevent it from moving.  Create a fold in the material so that the first baguette is not butted against the chopping board.

4.  Shape the dough.  Tip the dough onto a floured work surface.  Use a sharp knife, dusted with flour, to gently divide the mixture into 4 equal strips.  Shaping one baguette at a time, gently flatten the dough into an oblong.  Lay the long edge furthest from you along the centre line, do the same with other long edge.  Nip the two edges together gently.  Roll the dough gently into a sausage shape, about 30cm long (or no longer than the baking sheet you have),  trying not to apply much pressure but enough so the dough creates the classic baguette shape.  

5.  Lay the shaped baguette on the baker's couche.  Place the shaped dough, seam side down, onto the baker's couche (or tea-towel) so that it is parallel  to the chopping board that you positioned against the short edge.  Create another fold in the material alongside the baguette you have just laid down.  Shape the next baguette and lay it next to the first baguette, with the fold of material between the two.  Continue until all 4 baguettes are shaped.  Position another board (or similar) along the short edge next to your 4th baguette, though not too close so that it impedes its prove.

6.  Prove.  Cover the shaped dough with a clean tea-towel to prevent the air from developing a skin on the dough thus preventing the it from rising again.  Leave for about an hour.  They will be ready to bake when the dough springs back quickly after touching it.

7.  Pre-heat the oven.  Place a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven and preheat the oven to 240c / 220 Fan / Gas 9.

8.  Transfer to the baking sheet.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.  Gently roll the baguettes on to the tray.  Avoid lifting them as this will alter their shape.  Use a very sharp knife to quickly create 4 or 5 diagonal slashes across the top of the dough.

9.  Create the steam & bake.  Quickly pour a pint of water into the heated baking tray and place the tray of shaped baguettes into the oven.  Bake for 20- 25 minutes, until they are a lovely golden colour, the crust is crisp and the underside of the baguette sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to a cooling rack.
 
Enjoy!









This has been shared with:

Mummy Mishaps
Great Bloggers Bake Off, co-ordinated by Jenny of Mummy Mishaps, and hosted this week by Jo of Jo's Kitchen

Cook Style #GBBO
#GBBO Bake Along, hosted by Anca at CookStyle


The Bake Off Bake Along, hosted by Amanda at Rhyme & Ribbons and Ala at This Particular Blog

Bready Steady Go, co-hosted by Jen's Food and Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
Cuddle Fairy Link up your recipe of the week





34 comments:

  1. Mmm.. you know what? I never knew how complex it was to bake baguettes! Yours look fantastic.

    Saskia / girlinbrogues.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha-ha-ha, nor did I Saskia! Hubby & I decided baguettes would be a nice bake to make - but boy o boy, they're not easy. It's so difficult trying to shape the dough without knocking the air out! Paul certainly chose a corker of a technical challenge there!
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  2. Your baguettes look fabulous! Far better than some of the contestants last night ;0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thank you Liz, you're too kind :-) I think Paul H would have a thing or too to say about my baguettes (as he did with the contestants last night).
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  3. They look great - they looked too hard for me to try x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Louise, despite their faults they'll still go down the same way :-) I'm sure they'd turn out lovely if you made baguettes Louise :-)
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  4. well done on attempting baguettes and i think yours look really good. the homemade 'baker's couche' is very clever! i must try it myself as my OH adore baguettes with cheese!
    thank you for linking up x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Jenny :-) Yes do give them a go when you have chance, they do taste very yummy!
      Your welcome, and thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  5. I've always struggled getting my baguettes to be baguettey enough, they are always just like long bread rolls when I've made them. Yours look amazing :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw thank you :-) I think I must have had a large dose of beginner's luck showered over me ;-) I can certainly see areas where I can improve them when I tackle them again.
      Thanks for popping over and commenting,
      Angela x

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  6. I am seriously impressed with your baguettes. I bake cakes and everyone tells me I should enter GBBO and I explain to every single person that bread week would be my downfall! #foodpornthursdays

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooh wow, you must enter the GBBO then next year and use this intervening period to practice your bread skills - as they say, 'practice makes perfect' :-)
      Thank you so much for your kind comments about my baguettes - though they need some practice (and a much sharper blade!)
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  7. Wow, they look great! I had a go at them too, and they were actually a lot less stressful to make than I thought they would be... although that's probably because I had the full set of instructions compared to the contestants!

    Hannah :) x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Hannah :-) Yeah, I don't envy them being in a tent with cameras peering at their every move whilst trying the understand scant bake instructions all within a limited time frame!! Not easy.
      I'll pop over to see your bread baguettes shortly x
      Thanks for popping over and commenting Hannah,
      Angela x

      Delete
  8. Your baguettes look amazing! Is not the easiest thing to do and they turned out great.

    Thank you for joining in my linky x

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    Replies
    1. Aw you're too kind Anca! They're certainly not easy, but I've learnt a few things for my next attempt.
      Your welcome, and cheers for hosting.
      Angela x

      Delete
  9. These baguettes look fabulous, I tried and failed dismally but could just tuck in to one of yours x

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    Replies
    1. Aw thank you Cathy. They're tricky beasts aren't they.....and yet they contain such simple humble ingredients!
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  10. These look so good! Baking bread is something I've never really tried but I do want to give it a go - I need to try a simpler one first I think. Cannot beat a good fresh baguette though! x

    Jasmin Charlotte

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    Replies
    1. Totally agree Jasmin, there's something so yummy about a lovely fresh baguette. We really enjoyed them - they didn't last too long :-)
      Ooh yes, you definitely should give bread making a try, the smell is just lovely as it bakes! You know how good the smell is when you pass the fresh bread area in the supermarket.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  11. Brilliant baguettes, hats off to you for being brave and taking on the challenge! I think they look fantastic, thanks for sharing them with #BreadySteadyGo :)

    PS. Your cat is gorgeous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha-ha-ha - he's a darling. I'll pass your comment onto him ;-)
      Thank you Jen, I'm finding the GBBO bake alongs a great way to challenge myself a little; and in the process I'm learning quite a lot by actually doing the bakes rather than just reading about them.
      Thanks for hosting and popping by to comment,
      Angela x

      Delete
  12. Your baguettes look great! I am too scared to try the technical challenges!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Lucy. I've been enjoying trying some of the technical challenges, we've decided to make the ones thus far because they are the bakes that attract me the most from the 3 categories. I've learnt so much from doing them.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete
  13. These look gorgeous & you have great instructions. I attempted a baguette once but it came out like a weapon. I will follow your recipe next time. Thanks so much for linking up with #foodpornthursdays x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Becky, they're a tricky beast aren't they. Mr E usually proof reads my posts to not only check for spellings etc but as he's not a baker, he reads the method trying to imagine making said bake. If he can imagine it, then we're usually happy with the wording.
      Do let me know how you get on with the baguettes if you try them again.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  14. Replies
    1. Than you Amanda, they really were incredibly yummy!
      Angela x

      Delete
  15. Well done! They look great! I can't say the same for mine, which turned out like ciabattas, but you definitely win this challenge! :)

    www.themidnightblog.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Charlotte, you're too kind. I've been enjoying trying to make things from the GBBO as, although they don't always turn out as I want them to, I've learnt so many things by trying, I guess most people will have found the same.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  16. They look spot on to me and yes, you're right most important is taste and they look damn tasty (I am bread obsessed). I did smack some bread out myself, then shaped it into a rather rude shape :D I'll post it up at some point ;) So are you on the dessert challenge this week, I will be keeping my eye out. I'm laying off the cake for a little bit, Tom thinks I have a problem as he found me in the kitchen last week at 11pm making chocolate cake...it was for a friend in my defence :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. what you like Mands :-)
      Thank you re our baguettes, Mr E is also bread obsessed and the bread soon disappeared despite there being 4 sticks.
      I certainly am on the GBBO dessert week challenge ....what this space ;-) I think your Tom doesn't have the same appreciation of cake as you or I have ;-)
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  17. I love baguettes so much!! But I haven't been able to make them, I always finish with a hard thing impossible to eat. I will try to make some with your recipe. Pinning!
    Hugs,
    Pili

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    Replies
    1. I totally agree Pili, baguettes are so delicious. Do let me know how you get on it you try them :-)
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

      Delete

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