I’m good with making Baking Machine bread. I’m good at making loaf pans of bread. I’ve even made decent Raisin Bread. (Basically, make the loaf pan bread dough, roll out about 3/8 inch thick, sprinkle with a good layer of cinnamon and sugar, press in raisins in a solid layer, roll it up and bake). I even made an OK no risers Prepper Flat Bread for if you run out of yeast. And an OK Prepper Irish Soda Bread, if you have baking soda.
So far, La Baguette has eluded me…
I’m pretty sure that’s because, in the past, I’ve used “all purpose flour” or / and I’ve used “my usual” bread mix that includes added fat (oil) in the mix. Baguettes have no oil in them. Makes the crumb and crust different. Combine that with less protein and you don’t get a baguette, you get a long skinny loaf of so-so bread.
Oh, and you need water in the bottom of the oven if you like a crusty baguette.
As my scale has died (battery run low after a decade or two…) I’m resorting to using volume measures. This recipe uses volume, so OK…
Basically you mix the dry goods together:
2 1/2 cups bread flour ( 600 ml ), 1 Tbl spoon sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1.5 tsp dry yeast.
That gets 1 cup of water added and mixed in a bread maker / mixer. Then the usual rise, punch down, form loaf, rise cycle.
A bit of water and egg used for an egg wash if you like that glossy finish.
375 F / 190 C for 20 to 25 minutes.
Food Network has a trendy / cutesy recipe with corn meal (to which I’m allergic) and honey and other “look, we’re special!” ingredients (like ice cubes… unlikely those were on French farms in the 1600s…)
So I’m not using them as my starting point…
King Arthur Baking has a nice one:
Looks good for long lockdowns low on yeast as it makes a poolish or yeast starter out of 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water to which only 1/16 tsp of dry yeast is added. Mix and let rise overnight (14 hours).
But I want to make bread NOW, not in 14 hours. Plus I just ran out of my last big block of yeast and so (after about a decade?) bought another 2 lb block (for $5) at COSTCO. I’ve now got something like 5 jars of 1 cup each (250 ml) of dry yeast, all but one in the freezer, and I’ve got yeast for years and years again…
Oddly, even with the starter, they put 1.5 tsp of more dry yeast in the bread mix. Go figure… Add a cup + 2 Tbs of water (255 gm) and 3.5 cups King Arthur All Purpose Flour (did the French really use A.P. flour? I don’t think so…) with 2 tsp salt.
Usual rise and form loaves. 450 F oven, 1.5 cups hot water in the bottom for crusty bits, and bake 24 to 28 minutes.
Some Integration Done
Integrating that sample a bit… it looks like sugar is optional but does get the yeast going. Temperature can run 350 to 450 F (and likely 325 to 500 F) without too much variation in timing.
Flour is a little variable to kind. Maybe. No added oil or fats. Salt at about a spare 1/2 tsp /cup of flour. (Maybe 4 ml / 250 ? for metric?)
I think I can do that.
For my first effort, I’m going to concentrate on the shaping and baking steps. I’ve got a LOT of bread flour, so using it, and I have a 1/2 gallon of whole wheat flour that needs using up, and I like whole wheat, so I’m going to put a little bit in the test loaves. (Yeah, it won’t have quite the texture and taste of classic baguette, but these are test loaves and may end up fed to the dogs for all I know. I’d rather use some ‘lesser lights’ flour that needs to be used up for the test cases, then when I reach “polish the skills and product” stage, swap to the better bread flour 100%)
I’m very familiar with dough that had an added adjunct to smooth the crumb, like potato powder / flakes. So to separate “processing” from “ingredients” issues, my first loaf will use that mix style. That way I can tell how much “mix” changes the product vs “process and shape”.
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1/2 cup Instant Mashed Potato “flour”
1 1/2 cups Bread Flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 Tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry active yeast.
1 1/4 cup ( 10 oz) water. (I’d originally put in 1 cup but it was very dry)
Into the bread maker on “mix and rise” only.
After that’s done (about an hour more) I’ll do the whole punching down, making loaves, baking part. Likely 350 F / 25 min. With a pie pan of hot water in the bottom of the oven. About a cup.
I’m not doing an egg wash. Why? Blowing an egg per test isn’t my idea of frugal AND I like the softer crust breads anyway. Once it’s working well, I’ll do ONE loaf with the full wash and steam just to prove I can get there, but ‘heavily crusty’ isn’t a big feature for us.
Once I’ve got decent shape loaves coming out, and have the process working, I’ll try a batch of 100% ( 2.5 cups) bread flour.
Anyone with experience at baguettes, toss rocks at what I’m doing, apply Clue Stick liberally, and tell me how I ought to be doing it! ;-)