Today I’m taking on the task of learning how to form a traditional baguette. I will be using as my reference “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child. For this first trial I will be using the recipe from my previous post “Baking the Perfect Loaf” with a different technique in rising.
So with our dough mixed with our kitchen aid, and kneaded for a good 10 minutes, I place the dough back into the mixing bowl and cover with my lint free towel. I let the dough rise initially for 2-3 hours and it pretty much tripled in size. (see photo) I removed the dough onto my lightly floured counter top and punched it down to release all of the air bubbles. All punched down the dough resembled an enormous pizza. Now I folded the dough over itself starting with the left side, then repeated with the right side to form a round pillow shape. I threw the dough back into the mixing bowl and set it to rest for another 2 hours.
Next, I pushed out all of the air bubbles from the dough for the second time and then cut the dough into 8 equal portions. I folded each portion in half over itself and place them aside on a lightly floured section of my counter, covered them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 5 minutes. This gave me enough time to get my tray and floured table cloth ready. I grabbed my full size baking tray and placed a table cloth over it covered with flour that I rubbed in by hand. This part can get a little messy!
This is where the loaves start to take their form. This technique is broken down by Julia Child into 7 steps.
Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand.
Fold the dough over itself and pinch it closed with your thumb.
Rotate the loaf so that the seam is point up towards the ceiling.
Flatten the dough again.
Make a crease down the center of the dough (the long way) with the Karate chop part of your hand.
Fold the dough over itself and pinch it closed again with your thumb.
Roll out the loaf to form your baguette.
My ends seemed to be sliding all over the place on this last step not allowing me to make the ends pointy enough…I guess I had to much flour on them…so I lifted each end up of the table one at a time and rolled them in between my hands until I got the points I was looking for. As soon as I have it rolled out to the length that I want, I picked it up gently and placed it on the floured table cloth. Repeating the same steps for the next loaves.
Almost time for these babies to go into the oven but first I have to cover them with a few towels and let them rise for another 1-2 hours. I let about an hour and a half go by until I pre-heated my oven to 450F. I also took this time to get another baking tray buttered and ready to go. For the next step I had to get a little creative. It called for a flat long wooden board..of which I had none. So I cut a piece of cardboard as long as my loaves and covered it with aluminum foil. This acts basically like a transfer sheet from your floured table cloth to your lightly butter baking tray where they are then baked off. It seemed to do the trick. Transferring each loaf one at a time over to the buttered tray (the side that was laying on the floured table cloth facing up at the ceiling) leaving a good 3 inches
between each loaf.
This is where I get a quarter cup of milk and lightly brush the tops of my loaves. Next I made three long gashes vertically down each loaf less than a quarter inch deep, and Finally they’re ready to go into the oven! About 20-25 minutes until golden brown and they make a nice hollow thud when tapped with your knuckle. I was amazed at how light these loaves came out…and overall very happy with my first go @ Baguettes. Let me know how yours come out.