Saturday, August 29, 2009

Did I Really Make That Baguette? . . . Yes Jane, You Really Did!

You may recall, as I've mentioned it once or twice in the past, that I'm not much of a yeast baker at all. My confidence level with any sort of baked goods requiring yeast has always been slightly below sea level. This is a little odd, seeing that my mother baked yeast breads with spectacular success for decades and I, of course, watched her many, many times. But let's face it . . . sometimes the apple does fall a bit far from the tree. Lately, though, I find myself with the desire to just plunge in and face my fear, and today's delicious baguette helped to boost my sagging confidence significantly.

Because this recipe is becoming extremely well known among home bakers, and because there are many details and bakers' reviews you might like to read should you decide to try it, I am just going to link to it rather than rewrite it in this post. It's the King Arthur Flour website's version of the "Almost No Knead Baguette" recipe that hails from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I don't yet own this book, nor have I ever even looked for it at the library, but after today's success with the aforementioned baguette, I might just have to shell out real cash-money to procure my own copy.

This is the easiest recipe, and the results were really good, especially for a first timer. It's the type of bread dough that you can leave in your fridge literally for days, and take portions of it out to let rise and bake as you need it. Supposedly, the bread's flavor and texture improves the longer it hangs around in the fridge. (That's some kinda miracle, I'm tellin' ya.) I made the dough on Thursday and used about one third of it to make a test baguette this afternoon. Dear readers: It smelled like real French bread! Its taste and texture were just right, and my family confirmed this by helping to eat it up. No, I wasn't hallucinating. It wasn't a dream. I felt like squealing, "Victory is mine!" from the front porch. But I controlled myself, and just smiled a lot instead.

Tomorrow is Sunday and my husband and I plan to try making Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe (yeah, yeah, I know, just like the thousands of other folks out there who've recently seen the film "Julie & Julia"--but hey, you guys know I never claimed to be original!). A recipe like that is really more in his ballpark than mine, so I kind of hope he takes the reins as I tend to destroy meat unintentionally. While he's herding the boeuf, I will make another baguette tomorrow, to accompany that legendary dish. We'll see how it all turns out. I hope it's divine.

Anyway, I just wanted to share my pictures of the bread with you, and to urge you to think about trying the recipe, if you're at all like me . . . that is, if you've been a complete yeast-wimp for years and you're finally trying to get up the nerve to bust out. Was the bread perfect? No, of course not perfect, but that's okay. Afterall, perfection can be so boring. And this lovely little baguette was anything but boring.


P.S. The blog writer of Passionate About Baking recently made this bread too, and her glowing report, which I read earlier this week, helped give me the final incentive to give it a whirl. Many thanks to you, Deeba!


Kate said...

BRAVA!! Yeast can be so intimidating. I think that's why we have to beat it into submission before we bake it. This baguette looks great! Color, check! Crumb, check! Cool little slash marks on the surface, check! Family ate it up, check! What else IS there? Congratulations, Jane.

Jane said...

Thanks so much, Kate, for your very kind encouragement! :) It did feel like a positive yeasty accomplishment, at long last. I hope this is the start of many more good loaves emerging from my oven because I really do want to expand my repertoire beyond just non-yeast baked goods. So much still to learn . . .

Thanks again,

NikiTheo said...

I love love love French baguette!!! In my family (well, and culture), bread is a utensil and French baguette is always in the house!

And I wouldn't worry too much about doing a blog... My teacher was unique and obsessed w/ tastespotting. I'm the only one who went as far as I did w/ it and kept it going too!
Too bad you're not in Chicago, by the time your done w/ school, I might be ready to open a bakery! I could always use a partner!

Good luck and I can wait to see what you make and learn there!

Nicisme said...

Your bread rocks, looks so delicious, soft and crusty on the outside - brilliant!

Jane said...

Hi NikiTheo-- What's your favorite Greek baked good to make? Do you see yourself featuring anything special in your future bakery, Greek or otherwise? :)

Hi Nicisme-- I'm so glad you think so! Thanks very much. (By the way, I just visited your photo blog, Blurry Colours, and your work is beautiful.)


NikiTheo said...

Oh man, I love all Greek parties!!! I like galaktobouriko the best. I have not clue how to translate it into English, but it is a really thick honey flavored custard-y treat layer w/ filo dough! I love it!

I am focused on a city-feel bakery. Not like every other bakery that has generic cookies and cakes. I want to have fun things like lime curd cookies and banana and strawberry chocolate covered tarts and mini-cheesecakes and the stuff that is just not common. Plus Greek pastries! There is no where near me that has Greek pastries, not to have for the day or to have for catering. So I am going to have both!