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!