French baguettes have always been my nemesis, so when I was given an opportunity to choose a recipe to bake from a new cookbook, Baking By Hand: Make the Best Artisanal Breads and Pastries Better Without a Mixer, sight unseen, I chose to make the French baguette... the one bread I have not been able to do with much success... No pressure at all.....
I'm not saying that I haven't had success with flavor, it's just been difficult getting "the look." I really wanted to get to the next level.
Time to do this!
I love reading books about baking bread. Weird? Nerdy? Yes, I know, but mention certain names such as Hamelman, Reinhart, Lepard, Silverton, Robertson, or Forkish, and you have my attention.
Andy and Jackie King, the bakers who wrote this book, clearly have the same passion.
At the end of this post, I am giving away a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. I know you will love it as much as I do. Their story is a pleasure to read, the photos are stunning, and the way the recipes are written captures the pleasure of baking great bread.
Along with the baguettes, this assignment involved creating a sandwich made with super-slow cooked roast beef. The roast beef is baked in a 200 degree F oven for up to four hours. What is amazing about this process is that the beef ends up being the same pink color from edge to edge. Slice it thinly, and you have the perfect roast beef for this sandwich. Who knew?
The sandwich also calls for pickled red onions, oven-dried tomatoes, and extra sharp cheddar. All on a glorious (right?) baguette.
I think one of the reasons the dough behaved so well is that the recipe calls for the pre-shaped baguettes to be chilled before the final shaping. This made the dough so much easier to work with.
I am so glad I chose this recipe for this review! I am really looking forward to baking my way through the book (Don't forget to enter to win a copy).
To make the baguettes, you will need a baking stone, a couche (a heavy cloth which is floured in which to cradle your baguettes while they are proofing), a cast iron pan, a water mister, a pizza peel (you can substitute the back of a baking sheet), and a scale. I also used a couple of "flipping boards" (long skinny boards for lifting the baguettes) to transfer the baguettes from the couche to the peel. You will also need a lame or a very sharp knife to score the baguettes right before baking.
The following recipes are from Baking By Hand by Andy King and Jackie King (Page Street Publishing; August 2013). Posted with permission.
We (Andy & Jackie King) call this our “French” dough because we make baguettes and epi out of it, which are synonymous with Parisian bakeries. The baguette is easily our biggest-selling bread item at the bakery. It takes a bit of trying to nail this one down, and it’s the bread that will expose the flaws in your style (and equipment) more than any other. Like anything worth doing right, it will try your patience and reward your tenacity. Keep in mind: This dough is mixed significantly cooler than any of the others in the book. We also make a little extra every time we make this dough, and keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer. It makes nice pizza dough in a pinch, grilled bread in the summer (just flatten and toss on the grill for a few minutes on each side) and rolls when you need them. It’s handy!
• Yield: Six 8-oz/250-g baguettes and 1 lb/450 g left
over for experimenting
• Desired Dough Temperature: 75˚F/20°C
• Mixing Time: 40 minutes
• Bulk Fermentation: ~2 hours
• Proofing Time: ~45 minutes
• Baking Time: ~25 minutes
• Cooling Time: ~15 minutes
12 Hours before the Bake
Mix your poolish (see page 27).
7.5 oz/200 ml 75˚F/20°C water
7.5 oz/210 g white bread flour
¼ tsp/1 g instant yeast
15 oz/425 g poolish
1 lb 2.5 oz/525 ml 75˚F/20°C water
1 lb 13.75 oz/840 g white bread flour
3 ¼ tsp/23 g fine sea salt
1 tsp/4 g instant yeast
In a large mixing bowl, combine your poolish and water, and remember to keep that water at 75˚F/20°C to give your yeast a comfortable atmosphere to grow, but not grow too fast. Then, dump your flour on top of the liquid ingredients, and mix it by hand for about 30 seconds, until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl regularly; you want all of that flour hydrated and don’t want to see any dry spots. Set aside in a warm place, at least 80˚F/25°C, for 30 minutes. If you’re having trouble finding your warm place, it’s time to use your trusty heat lamp.
Sprinkle the salt and yeast on top of the dough and grab a four-finger pinch of the dough and pull. It should stretch out like chunky taffy rather than just tear off. Incorporate the salt and yeast into the dough, continuously pushing the sides of the dough into the middle while turning the bowl. After a minute of this, the dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl and developing a bit of a sheen, and you shouldn’t feel any crunchy salt crystals. Cover the bowl, and put it in your warm place for 30 minutes.
Turn your dough onto a lightly floured surface and pressed into the surface. give it your four-fold (see page 35). It should make a tight little package and after every fold the dough’s volume should increase. It should consistently feel warm and active. Roll the dough over and place it, seam side down, back into the bowl. Repeat every 30 minutes (you’ll fold the dough three times in total) until the dough is strong but puffy, warm to the touch and holds a fingerprint when pressed into the surface. The whole process will take about 2 hours.
Once your dough is ready to cut, turn it out onto your floured work surface. Using your bench knife and scale, divide into six 8-ounce/250-g pieces. Gently preround the dough into cylinders (see page 39), being careful not to compress the dough too much, and place seam side down on your work surface. To make the shaping a bit easier, it’s advisable to let the preshaped baguettes cool down before shaping. Place them on a sheet tray and cover with a moist towel. Up to an hour in the refrigerator or on a cold porch should do the trick. While they’re resting, set up your couche and your board to receive baguettes.
Shape the dough into six 12-inch to 15-inch/30 to 40-cm tapered baguettes (see page 40). Couche them snugly, seam side up, and place in your warm spot for about 45 minutes.
While your dough is proofing, place your baking stone on the lowest rack in your oven, and your cast-iron pan on the highest rack. Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230°C. Check in on your bread periodically; if the surface feels dried out, spray it with a bit of water to allow for maximum expansion. If it feels cold, make it warmer. This may take up to 1 hour, depending on the conditions of your kitchen. The loaf is ready to go in when it feels very airy and holds a fingerprint when pressed into the surface.
The Un-Massachusetts Roast Beef Sandwich
We (Andy & Jackie King) live and work in what feels like the roast beef capital of the world—the North Shore of Massachusetts. If you don’t believe me, try and drive for ten minutes up here without passing a Kelly’s, Sammy’s, Nick’s, Bill and Bob’s, Alex’s, and any other number of first-name drive-through roast beef joints. We pass by four on the way home every day. So we tried our hand at a unique roast beef sandwich, and although you can’t get it “with au jus,” as they say, it is Jackie’s favorite of all the sandwiches we serve at the bakery. The key to getting that pink through-and-through look to your beef is to cook it slow and low, and we’ve supplied you with an easy recipe to do just that.
Makes 1 sandwich
Pickled Red Onions
Yield: About 1 pint, enough for 10-12 sandwiches
2 large red onions, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch strips
3 cups white wine vinegar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Super-Slow Roast Beef
Yield: Enough beef for 10-12 sandwiches
1 top round roast, about 5 lbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Yield: Makes enough for 10-12 sandwiches
10 roma tomatoes
1/3 of a baguette (about 7 inches)
2 pieces sliced sharp cheddar cheese
To make the pickled onions, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, and pour over the onions. Refrigerate for 24 hours or until the onions take on a neon-pink hue; that’s how you know they’re ready. They’ll keep two weeks in refrigerator.
To make the roast beef, heat the oven to 200˚F. Generously salt the exterior of the roast beef, and add pepper to your taste. Place on a rack on a sheet pan, and cook until the internal temperature reaches 125˚F. Let cool completely before slicing.
To make the tomatoes, trim the stem end off the tomatoes, and slice 1/4 inch thick. Lay the pieces flat on a parchment-lined sheet pan, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 1 hour in the 200˚F oven, or until significantly dried but not crispy. To store, arrange the tomatoes flat in an airtight container, cover with olive oil, and refrigerate. They’ll keep for about a week.
To assemble the sandwich, layer the roast beef, cheddar slices, tomatoes, and picked red onion onto the sliced baguette.
This post is part of a blog tour promoting the book, Baking by Hand by Andy & Jackie King. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, as well as a copy to give away. Good luck!
To see a gorgeous Banh Mi sandwich made with this baguette, visit this post on Asian in America.
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