Simple Baguette, Magical Results

My affinity for a French baguette runs deep. And why not? Chewy interior, crispy exterior, a diverse foodstuff that can be used a myriad ways as a vessel for epic sandwiches, a base for spreads and pate, and an accoutrement in baked custard dishes and salads…but perhaps my favorite way to eat baguettes is simply all by itself, gently tearing off the crusty end, also known as le quignon, as I enter my kitchen, contemplating the evening’s meal. It’s a perfect food, never pretentious, but important in it’s subtle ability to elevate emotion, desire, senses with a simple bite.

I’m rather well known for my homemade baguette recipe that I’ve been making for years; I frequently take it to potlucks, dinner parties; often tied with twine to be presented to the host of the gathering as a thank you; and who doesn’t love the idea of being gifted a good bottle of wine and a homemade baguette? I honestly can’t think of a better gift I would rather receive, especially when it can be enjoyed at that moment with great friends, family.

This recipe is simple, and can be completed in about 1 1/2 hours if you’re short on time - I prefer the 2 1/2 hour version if you have a enough time to let the dough rise twice, which is optimal, but as mentioned above, not necessary if you’re in a hurry. I hope you enjoy; and please be forewarned: Your home is about to smell MAGICAL.

Baguette de Dighero

Ingredients

4 ½  to 5 Cups Bread Flour

2 tbsp. Chopped Garlic

1 tbsp. Clover Honey

1 tbsp. Olive Oil

2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

2 tsp. Salt

1 tbsp. Quick Rise Yeast

2 cups Luke warm Water

1 Whole Egg Beaten with Pinch of Salt, for exterior

Technique -

  1. In a small bowl, combine the warm water and honey, stirring until the honey dissolves.

  2. Add the yeast and stir gently to mix; allow to stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 4 cups of the flour, garlic, olive oil, crushed red pepper, and salt. Rotate on low speed until combined.

  4. Slowly add the yeast mixture and mix on low until incorporated - about 1 minute; increase the speed to medium low and beat for about 5 minutes, adding more flour, about 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough is elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl

  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute.

  6. Form into a ball and dust lightly with flour; sprinkle a little flour into a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl.

  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. 25 minutes.

  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; punch down the dough and knead for a few seconds.

  9. Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl again; cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. 20- 30 minutes.

  10. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down; cut the dough into 3 equal pieces and shape each into a ball.

  11. Let rest 5 minutes.

  12. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  13. Line a sheet bread pan with parchment and sprinkle with coarse salt and corn meal.

  14. Roll each ball into a log with tapered ends, about the length of the pan, and place on the sheet pan with parchment. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 10 minutes.

  15. Using a sharp knife, make 3-5 diagonal slashes in the loaves about 1/4 inch deep.

  16. Brush with the beaten egg mixture.

  17. Bake on center rack until the bread sounds hollow when tapped, about 30-35 minutes.

  18. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool the loaves in the pan until room temperature.