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HOMEMADE FRENCH BAGUETTES

Introduction & method

Making baguettes at home might seem to be an impossible thing, but it really isn't. There's a lot of steps involved in the fermenting/proving of the dough, so this recipe is basically short bursts of activity interspersed with longish periods of waiting. But a homemade baguette, fresh from the oven, is a thing of wonder!

Homemade French Baguettes Recipe

Make the Dough


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and yeast, then stir in the dough. When everything is incorporated into a ball, cover the bowl with plastic film and put it in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes.

Prove the Dough


In total, the dough needs to have four 45-minute periods of proving. After each proof, tip the dough out onto your worktop. The dough will be very sticky, but don't add any extra flour during the proving stage. Wet your hands and use a scraper and your fingertips to flatten out the dough and press all the air out of it, then fold it a few times, roll it back into a ball, pop it back in the bowl, cover and prove again.

Form the Baguettes


At the end of the fourth rise, sprinkle some flour on your worktop and tip the dough out. Divide it into two equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle with your fingertips, then fold one short side overso it covers one-third of the width of the rectangle, then fold the other side over that. Turn it over, neaten up the edges, then cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave to rise for 15 minutes.

Now we do the final formation of the baguettes. Traditionally, French bakers would use a thing called a couche to support the baguettes while they rise. This is simply a square of heavy duty linen, but don't worry if you haven't got one - a clean tea towel or pillow case will do just as well. Generously coat your 'couche' with flour. Arrange it so that the far edge is standing vertically for about 5 cm (2 inches) up against a wall, or a cereal box or anything else with a vertical edge. Take a piece of dough, place it on a floured surface, sprinkle more flour on top and on your hands. Use your fingertips to spread the dough out into a long rectangle (basically the length you want your baguette to be). Lift up the edge furthest from you, and roll the dough towards you. Use the heel of your thumb to seal the edge closest to you. Roll the baguette once or twice to smooth it, then lift it onto the couche, making sure it fits snugly up against the far edge. Grab the two edges of the fabric about 7.5 cm (3 inches) away from the baguette and lift it up to form a kind of channel that holds the baguette. Repeat with the second piece of dough, then cover the baguettes with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 30 minutes.

At some point during this proving, you need to turn your oven on to preheat to 190° C (374° F) fan, or 210° C (410° F) conventional, gas 7. Place a roasting tray with boiling water in it to generate steam.

Finish the Baguettes


When the baguettes have had their 30 minute rise, you need to transfer them to a lightly-oiled baking sheet. You can use a long peel, if you have one, or make a flipping board by wrapping a piece of cardboard in foil. Place the long edge up against a baguette and lift up the couche behind it slightly to tip the baguette onto the board. Roll the baguette off the board on to the baking sheet. Spray both baguettes with water, then make four deep slashes in the top at about 20° to the edge. The slashes should stop short of each edge by about 5mm (quarter inch). Now, place the baking sheet in the oven and spray some water in there too. Bake for 8 minutes, turn the tray around, and bake for a further 8-10 minutes, until the baguettes are golden and sound hollow when you tap the underside.



The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Homemade French Baguettes on YouTube.

 
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Ingredients & Info



•  350 grams strong white bread flour
•  260 ml tepid water
•  ¾ tsp active dried yeast
•  ¾ tsp salt

UNITS:
Metric
Imperial
US (cups, sticks, etc)

Makes 2 baguettes
Prep time: 20 minutes. Proving time: 4 hours.
Cooking time: 16 minutes.
Total time: 4 hours 36 minutes.

Watch the video on YouTube