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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Five Hour Baguettes (and Savoring the Last Few Days of Summer)


The weather has been so incredibly beautiful that we have been trying our best to cram in as many summer activities before the inevitable cold weather moves into our area. That meant, of course, that when last week proved to be a perfect 80 degree sunny day, we wasted no time in packing up a picnic dinner and heading to the beach to relax as a family.

Matthew and I mixed and kneaded the dough for this quick and easy baguette recipe from Mark Bittman and used it as the vehicle for some pressed sandwiches filled with thinly sliced grilled chicken, red peppers, onion, tomatoes, romaine, and a zippy lemon-thyme aioli. We brought the other baguette along to slice up and spread with cheese for Paul (who cannot go more than 24 hours without something cheese related). Throw in a couple iced teas and a tupperware full of apple slices and we were ready to enjoy the evening.


It was perfect. Beautiful weather, beautiful view, beautiful children, handsome hubby (I would use "beautiful" again but I think Paul might be a bit put off by being described with that adjective)...It was a fun, enjoyable evening.



The stupid seagulls were apparently starving. They kept creeping closer and closer in an attempt to steal some of our dinner. They made Matthew a little nervous...


"No bird. Nooo! That's MATTHEW'S Sandwich!!!"

He finally decided that the best defense he had was just to caw back at them. It was a little obnoxious and I worried what the people camped out next to us thought of our "bird child." Then I saw one of their kids eat a fistful of sand and I stopped worrying.

After realizing that the bird did not understand English, Matthew resorted to telling him off in his native tongue.
You tell him, Matthew!

My Dad always talks about how much he hates it when people go on vacation and then take a picture of their feet while laying on the beach or next to the resort pool. But what if the picture is of little baby feet? I took this picture just for him...although admittedly Emma was not too cooperative.


Looks like we might have to clean under her little toenails.

We enjoyed the beautiful sunset. We enjoyed such a beautiful summer, thanks in no small part to the addition of our sweet Baby Emma. She definitely makes our lives so much more rewarding and fun.

Our beautiful baby girl!

The recipe for today is for the easiest, quickest French baguettes you will ever make - the recipe we used to make the bread for the delicious sandwiches we enjoyed on our picnic. The dough is thrown together in a food processor and takes a whopping minute to mix together before being plopped in a bowl and allowed to sit for a few hours. It bakes up delightfully chewy and surprisingly full-flavored for such a quick recipe. I was especially surprised by how beautifully crackly the crust turned out. Most baguette recipes require a starter to be made at least 12 hours in advance of mixing the dough in order to really produce the developed flavor characteristic of a good baguette. However, I was truly impressed with the quality of these loaves. I highly recommend this recipe if you need good bread FAST. There is relatively no hands-on time with this dough and it can be sliced and served in as little as five hours.

Baguette shape on the left for our cheese appetizer and a batard on the right for sandwiches!

Easiest French Baguettes
adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything

3 1/2 cups (546 grams) bread flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 cups water (or more)

Process flour, salt, and yeast for a few seconds in food processor, using the metal blade. With the machine running, pour most of the water through the feed tube. Process about 30 seconds, or until dough becomes a sticky, shaggy ball. If it does not feel sticky, add more water.

Turn dough into large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for two to three hours at room temperature.

Sprinkle a little flour on the counter, and cut dough into three equal pieces. Shape each into long roll, and place in a lightly floured baguette pan. Cover with a towel, and let rise for another one to two hours. I let it go the entire two hours.

About a half-hour before baking, put baking stone in oven, and skillet or pan on lowest shelf. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When ready to bake, slash loaves with sharp knife and sprinkle lightly with flour. Put about 1/2 cup of ice cubes on pan on lowest shelf of the oven, and quickly put baguette pan on top of baking stone.

Spray sides of oven after five minutes and again after ten minutes. Bake 25 to 35 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

2 comments:

  1. I'll have to try these! My normal baguette recipe takes ~ 24 hours so 5 hours would be amazing!!

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    Replies
    1. Diana, the taste/texture/absolute deliciousness of a true baguette recipe could never be 100% replicated in such a short amount of time, but these do the trick in a pinch. Let me know if you try them and they work out for you - I think the trick is making sure the dough is "wet enough" after everything is combined in the food processor and since you have made baguettes before you are probably completely familiar with how it should look/feel. Enjoy!

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