Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Almost-No-Knead Baguette

Why bother making a baguette from scratch when I can buy a perfectly lovely one at my local bakery or grocery store? While this sort of thing is my idea of fun, I do it mainly because the store-bought ones usually come with a peanut warning and my daughter loves these, and she's so cute and those big sweet eyes (you get the picture).

This may seem daunting if you've never done it before, but if you break it down, one step at a time, it's not that hard. The smell and taste of fresh bread is worth it. But the fact that the dough can be made up to a week ahead is really what sealed the deal for me.

(Yield: 2 large baguettes)

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 ½ teaspoons table salt (not kosher or coarse)
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1.      Lightly grease a large (4 quart) bowl or container for dough storage in the fridge. Set aside.
2.      Place the water directly into a kitchen aid bowl (or other large bowl).
3.      Add the yeast, salt and flour to the water, and stir to combine. Mix until there are no dry spots; the texture of the dough should be fairly soft.  
4.      Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes in the kitchen aid with a dough hook (or knead gently by hand for a few minutes). The dough should be very sticky, but not loose (add a tablespoon or two more water if needed).  
5.      Put the dough in the lightly greased container and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
6.      Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 7 days.
7.      To bake one loaf: Scoop out half the batch of dough (about 14 ½ ounces). Place on a greased work surface.
8.     Shape the dough into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.
9.      Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten slightly, and fold lengthwise and seal again.
10.  With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15" log.
11.  Place the log seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or into the well of a baguette pan.
12.  Cover and allow the baguette to rise until it's very puffy, about 1 ½ hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450° F.
13.  Slash the baguette three or four times on the diagonal.
14.  Spritz the baguette heavily with warm water, and bake until a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. 
This recipe is originally from the King Arthur Flour website (great flour by the way). I cut the amounts in half (really, how often do you need to make 4 baguettes at home)?

dough after kneading (I know, but it says ALMOST no-knead)

after two days in my fridge (some condensation is normal)

my handy baguette pan (relax you don't need one of these, a
lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet works just fine)

dough oval
baguettes formed
baguettes risen (they sort of melded together, but
I just cut them apart after they baked, while still warm)
Find a nice, warm spot in your house to help the bread rise.  If you're
lucky enough to have a bread proofing feature on your oven, use that. 
If your house is cold, you may need to allow extra time for rising.
(I should have slashed them a little deeper, you don't
want them to fill back in too much while baking)

I used these to make Radish-Chive Tea Sandwiches


Anonymous said...

You had me 'til "baguette pan". What if you don't have one? Can you bake it on something else? What about a broiling pan? Would that approximate it or no?

Susan said...

Never fear, you can use an ordinary parchment lined baking sheet (it says that in the recipe, but I'll make it clearer by the photos).

Randi said...

Can you bake them in a dutch oven like you do with no knead bread?

Susan said...

I don't think you can get that baguette shape in a dutch oven (and if the dough isn't long and thin, I'm sure the texture will change). But if you decide to try that, let me know what happens!

Andria Crowjoy said...

This is perfect! Ruby wants to make bread but has little patience for the kneading so far. I've been looking for a middle-effort recipe to get her hooked. Ha, HOOKED, GET IT? :)

Andria Crowjoy said...

You and your evil deliciousness! I started the dough planning to bake it Saturday but just got to it and it's TOO GOOD. You know how hard it is for me to not improvise with a recipe, so baking always fails, but not with this baguette! Easy and perfect.

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