Thursday, January 28, 2010


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I have tried hard not to give in to the urge to bake bread these days, as we are trying to lose the 5 Christmas pounds we both gained over the holidays. It's not that we don't eat bread-- we eat moderate amounts of DH's good mostly-wholewheat bread. But it's hard not to eat too much of it when you are faced with a crackly artisan loaf! But, I gave in last week-- gave in to the urge to attempt to make a really good baguette. I decided to try a no-knead baguette and I used the recipe at the King Arthur Flour website as a starting point.

I did make some changes, though--

1.) I used 1 cup of wholewheat flour and the rest (7 cups) Canadian unbleached white flour.

2.) I used dry active baking yeast (the same amount-- 1 tablespoon) instead of instant yeast, and I used slightly warmer water (3 cups) and dissolved the yeast in it first. I used the same amount of table salt (1 tablespoon).

3.) I didn't knead the dough at all in a mixer, as the recipe had instructed-- I wanted to keep it simple, like my other artisan-style bread, so I just stirred the ingredients together in a large bowl, then let the dough rise, covered, for 2 hours (you can actually let these no-knead doughs rise in a coolish kitchen for up to 18 hours before refrigerating, if you like), and stored it in the refrigerator in a container with plenty of room to rise.

4.) I changed the baking method-- more about that further down.

The dough (with 1/4 of it used already) after a few days in the refrigerator.

The dough is drier than my own no-knead bread, but I figured, what the heck-- you aren't using alot of expensive ingredients in this bread!

The recipe is a little confusing about how much it makes, but it does make 4 baguettes. I made one loaf up after about 3 days in the refrigerator, and I rested and shaped and rose the bread as per the recipe (there are pictures for shaping here). I rose and baked it in a parchment-lined dark baguette pan at 450 degrees F, as the recipe instructed. It turned out pretty good, crackly crust and moist inside, but not enough holes for me.

Forming the baguettes (sorry about the odd coloring in these photos!):

I made a batch of 2 baguettes last night and I tried something different with the baking. I shaped them as instructed and rose them inside of "troughs" made with heavy tea towels, lined with baking parchment (which I sprinkled with flour), instead of in the pans.

I placed the shaped baguettes into the "troughs" with the seam-side-up this time, because what I wanted to try was heating the baguette pans in the oven first, along with a large rectangular roasting pan to use as a cover, and I'd have to turn the baguettes into the hot pan. I figured that this might create more of a "mini brick oven" atmosphere, as we do when baking round or oval loaves in a preheated covered pot.

When the baguettes had risen in their "troughs" for 1 1/2 hours on my kitchen counter, I heated the oven, with the baguette pan and the roasting pan in the oven (to 475 degrees F this time) for half an hour, giving the loaves a full 2 hours to rise. Then I removed the hot pans from the oven, sprinkled the baguette pan with a little flour, and up-ended the risen loaves carefully into the hot baguette pan "troughs", seam-side-down, using the parchment they rose in as a "carrier". It worked!

I sprinkled the tops with a bit more flour, slashed the tops with a razor blade, sprayed them with warm water, and hurried them into the hot oven. Then I turned the hot roasting pan over the baguette pan to form a cover. The whole affair was not covered on the very ends because there is a handle on the baguette pan which was longer than the pan, but I figured mostly covered was possibly better than not covered at all!

I set the timer for 25 minutes and left it alone, hoping for the best! After 25 minutes, I removed the cover-- they had risen beautifully! They were nicely browned on the bottom, but needed a little more browning on top, so I turned them over and let them bake, uncovered, for another 5 minutes before placing them on racks to cool. The crust was great-- you could hear it crackling as it cooled!

When we finally cut into it (so hard to wait!) we were rewarded with a moist, holey interior and excellent flavor from the longer fermentation in the refrigerator.

I have one loaf's worth of dough left-- maybe I'll make a few hard rolls with it!

Give this a try-- so yummy, and so simple. The absolute basic bread ingredients-- water, flour, yeast and salt-- turn into this wonderful creation with hardly any work. Really!

PS: Oh, and check out Yeastspotting, "a weekly showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient." I just discovered it and there's alot of beautiful bread out there...whew!



Rachel said...

I love making no-knead bread and these look great! Can I use bread flour? My friend just gave me a bag of it last night and I'm looking for recipes to use it in!

Vic Robinson said...

These look amazing!

Tami said...

Absolutely perfect! That texture is beautiful.

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Rachel/Bethany-- try it with bread flour, but be aware that French bakers generally use a lower-gluten flour than we do, which is why KAF called for all-purpose flour, I would guess. I used all-purpose flour, but Canadian flour, which is higher in gluten (protein) than American flour, but it was fine, obviously-- maybe because I used the 1 cup of whole wheat?

Natalie said...

I love baguettes, thanks for pointing this recipe out.

Kelly said...

Yum. I have to admit I've never made no knead bread, possibly because I love the relief of aggression I get from banging my dough around. However, these baguettes look absolutely perfect.

Mimi said...

Great job experimenting with your new dough. The baguettes look wonderful!

Joanne said...

This baguette looks delicious! You would never know that it's no-knead OR whole wheat.

Laura said...

Great crust and crumb!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, they look amazing!