I have started to explore cooking and baking again. Given my ‘bread slut’ status, my determined starting point was to be able to make a fantastic baguette. I have been reading everything in sight. I have the Culinary Institute of America’s ‘Baking and pastry : mastering the art and craft’. This is a massive tomb meant for the industrial chef. It uses all weights and baker’s ratios with batch sizes for professional kitchens. I am also using “Artisan Baking” by Maggie Glezer as a resource. I have made reasonable likenesses of baguettes before, but none that have been able to take my breath away. It’s strange I know, bread that takes your breath away, but it’s true. Crisp crust, soft chewy center, and flavor all combine till you want to close your eyes and focus on what’s in your mouth. Sorry I digress. My first attempt I decided to use the recipe called ‘Acme’s Rustic Baguettes’ from Maggie Glezer’s book. My dough turned out really wet. Throughout the recipe it continues to say don’t add flour, dough should be wet. Well it is wet, so wet I really have a hard time shaping it, it does not roll. I have to swoop and scrape with a pastry scraper. Figured this is the first time, follow the recipe. It does not look like the dough in the pictures of how to roll a baguette though. After proofing I have what to me appears to be a sorry excuse for wasting all that time. Well I am not going to throw it out now, ovens hot, let’s bake it. Scoring the top is hard as this dough is still very wet. Make a few cuts and in they go on the parchment paper they proofed on because I cannot get them off. I tossed a ¼ cup of water in the oven to get a touch of steam.
Set the timer then off to work on other more mandatory chores. Upon my return to the oven much to my surprise my baguettes don’t look half bad. They are brown and nicely round. This seems to me to be a strange twist of fate indeed. I pull them out and put them on cooling racks. The smell is heavenly, and the crackle off cooling loaves is a wonderful thing to behold.
After cooling down, I grab a loaf to give it the ultimate test; taste. It is not bad, as a matter of fact is damn good. I need to investigate this wet dough thing some more. Kids are arriving home now. They generally appease dad in his oft zealous cooking and baking endeavors. So the kids grab some bread and, with a surprised sort of tone mumble out of a full mouth, “this is really good”. I figured this was a good sign, but when my daughter asked me to only pack her a baguette, apple and bottle of water for school lunch the next day I realized I must have hit home run. To my even more astonishment, the next day when my son found out what his sister had in her lunch, complained he didn’t get the same thing. When both kids are asking for more of my bread;
I must have done something right.