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Bread recipes for Wednesday, March 8

March 07, 2000

Return to: Make your own Baguettes

Baguettes

  • 7 cups hard wheat flour
  • 3 1/4 cups cool water, about 65 degrees
  • 4 teaspoons fresh yeast
  • 4 teaspoons salt


Mix ingredients until dough is smooth but not excessively elastic. If mixing dough by hand, keep folding it for 5 to 10 minutes in a gentle, steady motion. To determine if dough is ready, look for its color to lighten, its texture to get smoother and more elastic.

Ferment dough for 75 minutes, folding in half after 45 minutes. Folding develops gluten, the protein part of wheat flour that gives structure to bakery products. Cut dough into 3 or 4 loaves weighing 13 1/2 ounces each. Cover for 10 to 20 minutes to allow gluten to relax.

Fold dough three times - once away from you and then twice toward you, sealing dough shut with the third fold and creating a seam. Roll dough into 3-foot cylinders and taper the ends, making sure seams are straight and on the bottom. Place loaves on a pan with linen between each one. Towels that have not been washed with fabric softener also can be used. This helps each loaf support the one next to it.

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Cover with plastic wrap for 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a draft-free environment at room temperature or a little warmer (75 degrees) and about 75 percent humidity.

Score, or cut, tops of the breads. Make cuts at a 20-degree angle into the middle of loaves, just deep enough to get under the skin of the dough. All cuts should be the same length and cover the entire loaf. Loaves can be baked on cookie sheets measuring 16 to 18 inches long covered with parchment paper topped with cornmeal. Baguette pans, which have a tubular shape and are perforated, also can be used.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees to 465 degrees.

Some type of steam inside the oven is ideal for baguette baking. To make steam, put a pan of water in the oven and place a piece of metal inside it. Another option is to heat an old skillet on the stove, then place it in oven with an ice cube in it. Remove metal after about five minutes of baking. Another option to create steam is to spray a mist of cold water into oven. Don't get light bulb wet.

Bake loaves for 25 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. The ends should curl up slightly. Cool on screens or racks to room temperature.

Makes 3 to 4 loaves.

Source: Richard Coppedge Jr., associate professor at The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y.

French Bread

  • 3 ounces compressed yeast (comes in refrigerated cakes in dairy section of grocery store)
  • 1 ounce sugar
  • 1 ounce salt
  • 1 ounce vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pints water at room temperature
  • 3 1/2 pounds bread flour (don't use all-purpose flour, it's too soft for bread dough)


Add just enough water to dissolve yeast in a cup. Add remaining water to sugar, salt and vegetable oil and mix to dissolve.

Put yeast mix in mixing bowl with other ingredients except flour. Mix at low speed - a power mixer with a dough hook attachment is preferable.

Add bread flour to mix. Mix on medium speed for approximately 7 minutes. Dough is developed enough when it mixes cleanly away from sides of bowl.

After mixing, allow dough to stand covered with a damp towel until doubled. Start mixer on low to knock dough down. Let rise the same amount as the first time, then turn out onto a flour-dusted table. Cut dough into 15-ounce pieces, then form into balls. Cover pieces with a towel and let stand about 15 minutes.

Dust baking sheet with a small amount of cornmeal.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mold pieces into desired shapes and place on pans. Set in a draft-free area to rise about twice in volume. With a straight razor or very sharp knife, make cuts in top lengthwise.

Bake about 35 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes 5 to 6 loaves, each about 20 inches long.

Source: Perry Sanders, owner of Sanders Cookie Jar Bakery, Hagerstown

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