I love making bread and experimenting with new techniques. In fact, I can’t remember the last time that I bought bread at the grocery store. Recently, I’ve tried my hand at making bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Who would have thought that such simple ingredients, two of which I used to make paste as a kid, would produce such an amazing baguette?
I bought this book some time back. However, I never tried anything in it because I thought that the quantity of dough produced would be way too much for what I would ultimately use. Then one day, I thought, “why no cut the recipe in half”? It was truly a DUH moment?
Ingredients for Artisan Baguettes
Anyway, the recipe that I cut in half was “The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf). I used the following ingredients: Unbleached all-purpose flour, Kosher salt, Bread Machine yeast and water.
Making the Dough
First, I poured the water which I had heated slightly in the microwave – 30 seconds on high – into a plastic bowl. Then, I added the yeast and the salt, and mixed it with a fork for about 10 seconds. I didn’t worry about whether the salt was dissolved.
Next, I dumped in the flour. I used my Danish Dough Whisk to mix the ingredients until all of the flour was incorporated. This took a minute or two. Once the flour was well incorporated, I had what looked like a gooey mass. The dough weighed approximately 27 ounces (enough for two baguettes, with a little left over)!
Allowing the Dough for the Artisan Baguettes to Rise
One of the features of the dough made this way is that it is relatively wet and sticky. However, this is not a problem at all. I loosely covered the bowl with the lid and set it on the kitchen counter for it to begin to rise. Here’s what it looked like after two-hours at room temperature.
After two hours, I covered the bowl and placed the bowl in the refrigerator. Even in the refrigerator, the dough continued to rise. Therefore, every now and then, I uncovered the bowl and punched the dough down.
Forming the Artisan Baguettes
On baking day, I cut off about 12-ounces of the refrigerated dough, and placed it on a well floured surface. I dusted the top of the dough with more flour. Then, I shaped it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as I went. I added more flour as needed to produce a cohesive ball. Because the dough was so wet, this took a fair amount of flour.
Once the dough was cohesive, I patted it out on a floured surface into a rough rectangle. Then, I folded the dough in half lengthwise, and sealed the edges with my fingers. Next, I flattened it slightly, and folded and sealed again. I continued doing this 4 or 5 more times, until the desired length was achieved, and the final product was smooth and cohesive. Finally, I repeated this with another 12-ounces of dough, and with the remaining 3 ounces.
Allowing the Baguettes to Rise
I placed the baguettes, seam-side down onto a parchment-lined perforated French bread pan. Actually, I used a reusable cookie sheet liner here because the parchment paper tends to burn a bit in the hot oven.
I heated my electric oven for 1 minute and 30 seconds and turned it off to produce a warm environment for the baguettes to rise. I covered the baguettes lightly with a floured towel and placed them in the warmed oven until they had become very puffy. This took about 2 hours.
30 to 45 minutes before baking, I removed the risen baguette from the oven. Then I preheated the oven to 500° F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Once the oven had reached 500° F, I placed an empty cast iron pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.
To prevent the knife from sticking in the wet dough when it is slashed, I sprayed the top of the baguette with water. Using a serrated bread knife, I slashed the loaf with longitudinal cuts that moved diagonally across the loaf.
Baking the Artisan Baguettes
When the moment arrived, I carefully lifted the reusable cookie sheet liner with the baguette, and placed it directly onto the hot stone. I poured 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water into the cast iron pan, and quickly closed the oven door. Then, I reduced the heat to 400° F, and baked the Artisan Baguette for about 25 minutes, or until it was golden brown and firm to the touch.
I carefully lifted the bread and the reusuable cookie sheet liner off the hot stone, and placed the baguette on a wire rack so that it could cool before I cut into it. The Artisan Baguettes were amazing. Yum!
These delicious baguettes are made without kneading or using a bread machine.
- 3 cups (15-ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 21/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant or bread machine yeast
- 1 1/2 cups 12-ounces filtered water, heated in microwave on high 30 seconds
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water. Mix well with Danish Dough Whisk, wooden spoon, or in a food processor or heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until mixture is uniformly moist, without dry patches.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse, approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature and the initial water temperature. A portion of the dough can be used at this point. However, the flavor and consistency improves significantly over time.
- On baking day, cut off about half of the refrigerated dough, and place it on a well-floured surface. Dust the top of the dough with more flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Add more flour as needed to produce a cohesive ball. Because the dough is so wet, this will take a fair amount of flour. Once the dough is cohesive, pat it out on a floured surface into a rough rectangle. Fold the dough in half lengthwise and seal the edges with your fingers or the heal of your hand. Flatten the dough slightly, and fold and seal again. Continue this process 4 or 5 more times, until the desired length is achieved, and the final product is smooth and cohesive.
- Place the baguette, seam-side down onto a parchment-lined sheet perforated French bread pan. Heat an electric oven for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Turn off oven. Cover the baguette lightly with a floured towel and allow to rise in an electric oven that is turned off, until it has become very puffy, about 2 hours.
- 30 to 45 minutes before baking, remove the French bread pan from the oven. Preheat the oven to 500° F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray or cast-iron pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.
- Paint water over the surface of the loaf with a pastry brush or spray the surface with water. This prevents the knife from sticking in the wet dough when it is slashed. Slash the loaf with longitudinal cuts that move diagonally across the loaf, using a serrated bread knife.
- Carefully lift the parchment paper with the loaf and place it directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 1/2 cups of hot tap water into the broiler tray or cast-iron pan, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm to the touch.
- Allow to cool on a rack before cutting or eating. Yield: Two baguettes.