Fall is here, and I think fresh baked bread is in order. Really, fresh bread is good all year round, but something about fall makes it the perfect comfort food in my opinion. One of my favorite breads of all time is a Baguette. When I was 17 I had the opportunity to go to France with my school. We spent 1 week as a class with a tour guide traveling around the northern part of the country. Then the second week we each went to live with a family. When we weren’t with our host family, we would be on our own for lunch. My best friend Cosy and I pretty much lived on bread during that week. We would go to the nearest Boulangerie (bakery), pick up a Baguette or a Croissant, a Diet Coke and a Kit Kat (don’t ask me why), and find a bench or park to eat our lunch at. We were in pure heaven!
Lately you can get a fairly good and affordable artisan bread at your local grocery store. They have the Take and Bake ones that I really like. The Baguettes are not what I remember though. So when I saw a recipe for Baguettes in the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I knew I had to try it. It was good, I did really like it … BUT this was not a Baguette by French standards. Now, I am not a master when it comes to bread, so I could be to blame for this. I would make this bread again in a heartbeat, I would just think of it as more of a traditional Italian Bread. I have seen other recipes that take multiple days to do. I will have to give in and try that sometime. Until then, bon appétit!
1 pound Boule Dough (Recipe Below)
Whole Wheat Four
Boule Dough – makes 4 1-pound loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ Tbls yeast (2 packets)
1 ½ Tbls kosher salt
6 ½ cups all purpose flour
The water should be about 100 degrees. Add yeast and salt to water in a 5 qt bowl (I used electric mixer bowl). Mix in flour – no kneading. You can use your electric mixer or a wooden spoon. Cover and let rise and begin to collapse (about 2 hours). Cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge for up to 14 days.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with the baking stone placed in the middle.
Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour. Cut off a 1-pound piece. Dust the piece with more flour and stretch the dough around to the bottom of itself to form a ball. Then stretch and elongate the dough. Dust with more flour, if needed. Form into a 2 in diameter loaf. Place the loaf on a pizza peel (or cookie sheet or cutting board) coated in whole wheat flour. Rest for 20 minutes.
Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with water. Slash the loaf with diagonal cuts. Use a serrated knife.
Slide the loaf onto the hot stone. Place a pan with 1 cup of water below the baking stone. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until brown and firm to the touch.
Allow to cool in a wire rack before cutting.