You know that sinking feeling you get, after having spent hundreds of years thinking how lovely it would be, to do a certain thing. When you finally get to doing it, it doesn't work.
At Pebble Soup HQ, baking baguettes, has been labelled with a capital F...for Failure and for what I used to say on opening the oven-door. I am not quite there yet but my latest attempt is worthy of posting, so light and crusty that opening the oven door became opening the heaven door. Perseverance paid off.
Ingredients - make 3 baguettes-
90g (3/4 cups) plain (all purpose) flour
2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt (or table salt)
1 teaspoon sugar
375g (3 cups) white strong flour
310ml (1 1/4cup) warm water
Polenta or semolina (pasta flour) or fine cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet
More about shaping baguettes techniques in a post coming soon
Put the yeast, sugar and 310ml warm water in a small bowl and mix well. Leave in a warm draught-free place for 10 minutes or until bubbles appear on the surface.
Mix together the flours and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and transfer all the dry ingredients to a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture. Using a spoon mix until you get a soft dough> Cover leave to rise till it is one third of its original size about 30 minutes.
Knead the dough on a slightly floured surface add a little water is needed to get a soft slightly sticky dough. When the dough is smooth and elastic shape it into a large ball put it back in the bowl with a dampen clothe on the top for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size
Lightly grease two large baking trays and sprinkle with polenta. Punch down the dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into three portions and press or roll each into a rectangle about 20x40cm. Roll each up firmly into a long sausage shape and place seam side down, well spaced on the tray. cover loosely and leave for another 40 minutes or till doubled in size
Pre-heat the oven 220C/ 425F/ gas 7. Lightly brush the loaves with water and make diagonal slashes across the top at intervals. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. For a really crusty baguette place an oven-proof bowl of water in too. Bake for 20 minutes then lower the temperature to 180/350/4 and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden. Colo on a wire rack