Thanks to Michael Ruhlman and his bread baking app for the iPhone, I have nearly mastered the baguette.
Out here in the sticks, we don’t have access to the kinds of artisan breads that I could get even at my not-swanky supermarket in California. I live with a man for whom good carbs are really crucial — and who loves loves loves good bread.
I’ve been making the no-knead bread for ages (as my many posts on that subject attest), but it needs a long lead time and an overnight fermentation. There have been a few times recently when I’ve been out of bread but didn’t want to pony up four bucks for a mediocre loaf of bread at my local market. Ruhlman’s bread baking app is great — you can put in what you want to make, white or wheat, boule or baguette, and up comes a recipe. Yesterday I started the dough at about 3pm and we had bread for dinner at 8 (this is where working at home comes in handy).
The first one I made last night was too long for my oven, so it wound up as a sort of s-shaped baguette, but it tasted great. This morning, I mixed up a new batch, and split it into two loaves. Voilà! Baguettes.
The second batch I tinkered with a little bit — added some sourdough starter for flavor (which required a little math, the starter is 50/50 flour water, so I had to calculate how much flour and water I was replacing from the original recipe), and wheat germ for crunch and depth of flavor. They came out really well (although I haven’t tasted them yet).
There is one minor issue I’m having … scorching. The recipe says to preheat the oven to 450 — I actually cut that to 425 because I’ve found that the no-knead works best at that temp. But both last night and today, I wound up with scorched bottoms when I baked them on the baking stone. The stone is on the bottom of the oven, and this afternoon, I put the loaves on parchment paper (makes it much easier to slide them into the oven that way). Still, wound up with scorched bread. When I smelled the scorching I moved the loaves up onto a rack, where the rest of the crust got nice and brown, but this is an issue. I’m going to have to play around with it.
I have to say, I love the iPhone app for this use. It’s easy to access, the instructions were simple and straightforward, and for the first time I understood how to roll/shape the baguettes so they didn’t go flabby all over the oven. It would be nice if there was a way to make a note on your own copy of the app. But overall, I’m a fan so far.