You must be aware by now that today is 11/11/11 (and also Pepero Day it seems?). You may not be aware that I’m partial to binary numbers.. I mean, having a binary zip code was a huge factor in choosing where to live (only somewhat kidding). I wanted to bake something special for today, so I chose something I’ve wanted to try for a while.
Baguettes! 11 baguettes, to be precise. I’m sorry, 0b1011 baguettes. I’m a huge bread-lover, and this baguette pan I bought a while ago has been waiting patiently to be used. I researched recipes high and low, but because I didn’t start the process a day ahead like the classic recipe says I should, I adapted and decided to leave the starter out completely. And I’ll say, if this easy version is half as good as the classic one, I’m tempted to give it another whirl and spend the full 24 hours making more baguettes. Like the King Arthur recipe says, “The more you practice your baguette-baking techniques, the better the baguette you’ll make.”
And now that we have typical November weather back, I plan on making a Vietnamese beef stew (bo kho) for dinner, and I think these baguettes will be the perfect accompaniment.
Oh, I know I’m not the only geek around here… did anyone else do something special for 11/11/11? (please?)
heavily adapted from King Arthur
Recipe below makes 3 baguettes, which I tripled to make 11 slightly smaller baguettes.
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg white
1. Dump flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in 1 cup of water, and using the dough hook attachment, start kneading on speed 2 for about 5 minutes until dough becomes smooth and forms a cohesive ball.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-size bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours. (Or let rise in refrigerator overnight, but bring to room temperature before continuing recipe. Dough should have doubled in size during this process.)
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Divide it into three equal pieces.
4. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again.
6. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 15″ log. Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or baguette pans.
7. Cover them with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they’ve become very puffy, about 1 1/2 hours.
8. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
9. Using a very sharp knife held at about a 45° angle, make five vertical slashes in each baguette. Brush tops of baguettes with egg white then spritz the baguettes heavily with warm water; this will help them develop a crackly-crisp crust.
10. Bake the baguettes until they’re a very deep golden brown, for about 15-20 minutes. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack. Or, for the very crispiest baguettes, turn off the oven, crack it open about 2″, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven. (Be sure to time baking up to 2 hours before you plan to eat them. There’s absolutely nothing like eating a freshly baked baguette, soft and warm inside with a crunchy crust!)