Thursday, November 8, 2007


Today, I got back from class with the urge to bake, so I got all my supplies and headed down to my building's kitchen. But lo, going to college in rural Ohio has its pitfalls: the north side of campus is on boil alert, so the stove top turned out to be my source of running water.

Undeterred, I baked on. I decided to bake baguettes, based on a super-simple recipe that I must have collected somewhere (I have a moleskine notebook in which I collect thoughts and recipes). This particular baguette recipe begins with a starter. To begin, you need:

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dry yeast
2 cups water (warm)

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and let it sit. After heating the water, sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for a few minutes. When it looks like it's starting to dissolve on its own, stir it with a wooden spoon. Pour the yeast-water mix into the bowl with the flour and squish it around with your hands until it is all incorporated. You can use the more traditional well incorporation technique if you want, but I didn't write that in the recipe and these turned out just fine without it.

Once the above ingredients are incorporated, let the starter sit for three hours or so until it becomes a soupy mess:

For the next step, sift in two more cups of flour and a teaspoon of salt. I don't have a sifter, but I found a bored roommate who wanted to play with flour, which worked just fine:

Having incorporated the the last few dry ingredients, I kneaded for ten minutes, and placed the dough in an oiled bowl to rise for another hour. After the rise, I broke the dough into three pieces and rolled them out to baguettes. I think I let the dough rise a little too long (it's HOT in the dorm), because (as you'll see) it looks like the baguettes were collapsed a little and the dough felt a little limp. I let them proof for a while and covered two of them with fresh-grated parmesan cheese.

They turned out well. For some reason the cheese-covered ones split apart in total disregard for my slashes. I think this is because the cheese has a lower heat capacity than the crust of the bread and gets much hotter much faster. No matter what it did to the crust, though, parmesan on hot bread is one of the most delicious things in the world.

Next time, I'm going to make a boule. I also want to make Great Granny MacEachern's raisin scones, but I may have to actually wrestle my mother for the recipe. Perhaps, when I'm home for Thanksgiving, I'll raid the recipe drawer.

That's all for now!


Mary Frances said...

Hi Mike,
Welcome to the blogging world, and thanks for the link love. It looks like you're off to a good start. I like how you wrote up the recipe.

Anonymous said...

this post made me happy. i need to start baking here in the dorms.
- dan

Anonymous said...

this is my favorite challah recipe:

5 1/2 - 6 c. flour
1 T dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/4 t salt
6 T vegetable oil
1 1/2 c water plus 2 t
1 egg

1. In a small bowl put yeast, 1 T sugar, 1/4 c water. Mix and
let it stand for 10 minutes or until it bubbles.

2. In second bowl put all dry ingredients: flour, salt, sugar; mix them well.

3. In bowl #3 put all wet ingredients: water, oil, egg, and the yeast mixture after it's bubbled; mix them well.

4. Mix everything together to make the dough. If the dough is too sticky, add a little flour until you can handle it. Use your hands to mix and press the mixture until it forms a ball of dough.

5. Cover with a towel, and let the dough stand in a warm place for an hour or an hour and a half until it doubles in size.

6. Punch the dough to let out the air bubbles.

7. Let stand for 10 minutes.

8. For traditional-style challah, separate dough into six even
pieces, roll each piece into a snake either between your hands or on the table, and make two braids. Turn the ends under so they look
pretty. You may need to keep a little flour out to keep them from
getting too sticky. Or, weave them into any design you like. Place
them on greased and floured cookie sheets.

9. Beat one egg in a small bowl. Brush both braids with egg. Let them stand half an hour, and then
brush with egg again. If you
like, sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds after the second egg wash.

10. Let rise for an hour or an hour and a half until the loaves double in size.

11. Heat oven to 375F.

12. Bake for 22-26 minutes or until the tops turn golden.

(i've found king authur unbleached bread flour works really well in this recipe.)


Anonymous said...

the top one looks like a turtle gritting its turtle teeth.

Doughy Darlene said...

What a hunk of an assistant!