SPRING 2020 EDITION
Personalities, Celebrations and Sporting Pursuits
Voilà: La Fabuleuse Baguette Française
Continued from the Spring issue of Country Zest & Style Magazine
By Daniela Anderson
Country ZEST Food Editor
Baking the baguette in a steam-injected oven also is very specific to this loaf. The steam allows the surface of the bread to remain moist so the yeast in the loaf can finish expanding within the first 15 minutes of baking (oven spring).
As the loaf continues to cook, the steam is removed and the characteristic, crunchy crust forms while the interior remains soft, airy and chewy. The home baker can achieve this by placing a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack about 15 minutes before baking. Saturating a small, rolled dishtowel and placing it in the pan of boiling water helps to regulate the steam. After 10-15 minutes of baking, the pan of water is removed, the temperature is reduced and the baguettes are rotated for even baking. The loaves then continue to develop their crunchy, golden crust. If you are worried about scalding yourself with boiling water when placing the pan into the oven, you can use water at room temperature, but the water must come to a boil in the oven before you put the loaves in the oven. Prep your supplies and preheat you oven for a full hour minimum before baking.
Once the loaves come out of the oven, resist the temptation to eat them hot. The flavors continue to develop as the baguettes cool.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS: TO LEVAIN OR NOT TO LEVAIN, THAT IS THE QUESTION….
How you ferment the dough as well as how long you delay it, proof, shape, score and bake your baguette all contributes to how your final loaf will look and taste. Up to a century ago, French bakers used a natural leaven (wild yeast starter). More recently, they have adopted a blend of baker’s yeast and a “levain” (correct term for the wild yeast starter). The result is a lighter, more open crumb. The natural, wild yeast produces a variety of wonderful flavors and it is worth it to experiment with your own starter. The recipe in this article uses only the baker’s yeast so you can get your feet wet. Additional info on how to cultivate your own wild yeast, make a starter and use it in baking baguettes can be found online on our website.
To get a full understanding of the whole process, please read the recipe thoroughly before starting to make the baguettes. It will aid greatly in understanding the timing and techniques.
Your family and friends are going to be wowed when you serve up THE perfect baguette that looks and tastes just like it came out of a French Boulangerie. Let’s get baking.