Friday, April 25, 2014

Perfect (4-hour!) Mini Baguettes


I have been looking for the perfect at-home baguette recipe for a very long time. Most of them are extremely complicated and require way more time than I usually have. The one I found on Fine Cooking is a very good recipe, but I tweaked it to make it easier and more do-able for the average home cook!

This is my go-to recipe for baguettes. They are chewy, soft, crispy, delicious-- perfect. 

WARNING: You may want to make a double batch since you'll probably be eating these right when they come out of the oven...

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

(Makes six loaves)

Ingredients:


  • 1 lb. (3-1/3 cups) bread flour; more for dusting
  • 2-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp. fine sea salt 
  • 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
  • fine cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Directions:


  1. Combine 1-1/2 cups warm water with yeast in a small bowl. Let stand for ten minutes. The yeast should begin to foam/bubble. (The water should be neither hot nor cold. You want to wake up the yeast! If it's too hot, it'll kill the yeast!)
  2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on low to combine.
  3. Gradually add the yeast/water mixture to the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low.
  4. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the dough hook; the dough will be very sticky. Mix, scraping down the bowl and hook every 2 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes more. The dough will be sticky! 
  5. Remove the dough hook and scrape any dough clinging to the hook into the bowl.
  6. Scrape all the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the dough and your fingers.
  7. Remove the dough from the work surface, using the bowl scraper to loosen it if necessary, and put it seam side down in a medium bowl. 
  8. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel and let the dough rest in a draft-free spot until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours. 
  9. Line a large (17-1/2 x 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 
  10. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface, smooth top side down. Fold one side of the dough into the middle and press down firmly along the length of the seam. Fold in the opposite side and press again firmly along the length of the seam, forming a rectangle.
  11. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is up. With the bowl scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces by making one lengthwise and two crosswise cuts. Weigh them; they should each be about 4-3/4 oz. Equal them out by cutting a bit off the heavier pieces and tucking it under the lighter pieces. 
  12. Make a line of flour on your work surface to dredge the baguettes. Working with one piece of dough at a time, put it smooth side down on a lightly floured work surface.
  13. Fold a long edge of the dough into the center, pressing firmly with your fingertips along the seam all the way down to the work surface, folding with one hand and pressing with the other, working from one end to the other. Fold the other long edge into the center in the same way. 
  14. Continue to fold and press alternate edges until the baguette is 11 to 12 inches long, 5 to 6 folds.
  15. Dredge the smooth side of the dough (the seam is on top) in the line of flour.
  16. Set the baguette floured side up (seam down) on the baking sheet. 
  17. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel that has been dredged in flour and let sit until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. 
  18. While the dough sits, position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (if you have a convection oven, use it). Have ready a small spray bottle of water.
  19. When the baguettes are ready, cut slits in the tops of them. With a thin, very sharp knife, make 4 to 5 slashes on a sharp diagonal, 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep, on the tops of each baguette.
  20. Mix egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush the tops of each baguette with the mixture. 
  21. Open the oven and quickly spray about 10 squirts of water into the bottom and sides of the oven to make steam. Put the baguettes in the oven, spray again into the bottom and sides of the oven, and quickly close the door to trap the steam. Reduce the oven temperature to 475°F. Bake the baguettes for 6 minutes and then quickly turn them over on their baking sheets. Swap the sheets’ positions and bake for another 5 minutes.
  22. Remove the baguettes from their baking sheets and put them scored side up directly on the oven racks. Bake until the baguettes are dark golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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