I have never met any person living in France who worries about baking baguettes at home. Why would anyone do so, when they can walk a few steps from the front door and find the very best examples, fresh from the oven? But when you live in the US the situation is totally different. The stuff you see sold as “baguettes” could bring Paris back to 1789. Some, if held up, will fold. Wrap your mind around that. A baguette with such poor inner structure, with so much stuff added to the dough to prolong its sorry life, that it folds under its own weight. I have a few recipes for baguette in the blog already, but decided to bite the bullet and try America’s Test Kitchen version. I say bite the bullet because, as my friend Cindy always says, their recipes ensure that you will dirty every single pan, bowl, utensil you have. They don’t cut corners. They create them. In the case of their baguettes, the issue is not so much messing up stuff, but the timing and super detailed instructions. You can find the full recipe in their site, I will give just a very minimal overview, as I could not get permission to publish their method.
(from America’s Test Kitchen)
¼ cup (1⅓ ounces) whole-wheat flour
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder (optional)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups (12 ounces) water
OVERVIEW OF THE METHOD
Make a dough with all ingredients by kneading with a mixer for about 7 minutes. Leave it at room temperature and knead by folding three times, letting the dough rest for 30 minutes in between folding cycles. Refrigerate overnight.
Remove dough from fridge, divide in half, work with half the dough at a time. Follow their precise measurements to obtain four portions of dough.
They will instruct you to pre-shape the dough, minimizing how much you handle it, and with a lot of waiting time in between each manipulation, including the final shaping and stretching to a size compatible with home ovens.
After a final rise of 45 to 60 minutes, the baguettes will be ready for a 500F oven, baked for 5 minutes covered with a disposable aluminum baking pan (excellent method to create steam), and uncovered for the final 15 minutes for proper browning.
for full recipe, visit this site
You will be able to bake two baguettes at a time. I did not bother retarding the two last baguettes in the fridge, as the baking takes a reasonably short time. Overall, it is a good recipe, just pretty convoluted in terms of all the instructions given for handling the dough.
The inner crumb had the uneven holes that are the mark of a good baguette, but I expected a slightly more open structure. Taste was pretty spectacular, I think the proportion of whole wheat and all-purpose flour is perfect. I will probably do a few changes in the way I shaped it, because I suppose a bit more surface tension could be better, two of the baguettes were not as round as I would like.
America’s Test Kitchen insists they should be consumed within 3 to 4 hours. I beg to differ, and find that they freeze quite well and a small visit in a toaster oven brings them back to life…
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