My husband and I really love bread. Before our weight loss journeys began, we could easily put away a loaf of bread between us, especially if it was warm right out of the oven. Oh man.
We’ve avoided that bread for a while now, until crawfish season was in its prime a few weeks ago. See, my husband likes the bread b/c the crawfish boiled garlic cloves are just perfection on it. While I love the garlic myself, I mainly use the bread to tone down the spices. I’ll hold a piece of bread in my mouth for a minute or so to give my taste buds a break LOL!. I’m such a wuss…
Since we were having friends over for crawfish, I decided to take the opportunity to face my fear of yeast. Yeast and I aren’t the best of pals. I usually add water that’s too warm, and I kill it. Our relationship isn’t healthy…I’m a yeast killer.
This time, I was super careful about my water temps….since this bread takes a LONG time to be oven-ready, I wanted to make sure that water temps weren’t the culprit. It worked out beautifully. The bread is VERY crusty (I sprayed water like crazy on it before placing it in the oven), with a nice soft interior. It’s not like the french bread out here (which is usually for po’boys), but it’s a wonderful bread nonetheless. While it takes a while to come together, the actual work time on this couldn’t be quicker. It’s very simple to throw together the dough (especially if you have a stand mixer)…you just need some patience for the rising times.
Source: King Arthur Flour
For the starter:
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
For the dough:
- All of the starter
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
- Mix the ingredients for the starter, until everything is well mixed and smooth. Cover the starter with a kitchen towel, and allow the starter to rest at room temperature overnight.
- The next day, mix the starter with the remaining dough ingredients, and knead the dough (by hand or using a mixer), until the dough is springy but not completely smooth. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled/greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow it to rise for 3 hours. After the first hour of rising, gently deflate it and turn the dough over, and then do the same thing again the next hour.
- Divide the dough in half, and shape the halves into a rough oval. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, then fold each oval lengthwise (carefully sealing the edges) and using cupped fingers to gently roll each piece into a 17″ log. Transfer the loaves onto a lightly greased or parchment/silicone lined pan. Cover the loaves once again, and let them rise until they’re puffy, but not yet doubled (this will take 2-2.5 hours).
- In the last 15 minutes of rising time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Gently make three diagonal 1/3″ deep slashes in each loaf of bread, using a sharp knife or razor blade. After the rise is done, mist the loaves liberally with warm water. Bake the baguettes for 22-28 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Turn the oven off, crack the door open a couple of inches and allow the baguettes to completely cool in the oven.