While I am lucky to have an outstanding French boulangerie, Le Bec Sucré, near me run by an amazing couple, I’m never up in time get there in time before they sellout of their baguettes in the morning. And I could pick some up from Aldi to bake, it just isn’t as good. The other alternative is to make my own. Now they will never complete with Belinda’s baguette of perfection, but they will beat anything purchased at the grocery store.

I am trying out baguettes recipes currently. As an avid watcher of The Great British Bake Off program, I thought I would try out Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes recipe. The ingredients are simple: bread flour, salt, yeast, and water. The proofing is essential as well as the technique. I am still working on it both the proofing and technique. That will come with practice. As the feature photo is a baguette stunt double as mine are not Instagram worthy, but they have a good crumb and good taste so I guess that’s all that matters in the end. My new French Baguette Pan improved the shape as shown below.

 

When making this recipe (and most baking), I use a scale to measure ingredients. For baking, measuring by weight is idea as it is very precise and that matters. I recommend using good quality bread flour like King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill which are readily available at most grocery stores. The recipe mentions a linen couche which is a thick linen cloth used to help baguette dough keep its shape while it is rising, in the second proofing. Another item, I use is a Bread Lame that slashes the tops of the baguette. A very sharp knife would work well, too.

If you are interested in another recipe from The Great British Bake Off that is so easy and a total show stopper, then try Mary Berry’s Christmas Pavlova.

Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes

Ingredients

  • olive oil for greasing
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 10g salt
  • 10g instant yeast
  • 370ml cool water

Preparation

  • 1. Lightly oil a 2.4-litre square plastic container with olive oil. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough.)
  • 2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water, then continue to mix on a medium speed for 5–7 minutes, until you have a glossy, elastic dough.
  • 3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub. Cover and leave for 1 hour until at least doubled in size.
  • 4. Dredge a linen couche with flour and lightly dust the work surface with flour.
  • 5. Carefully tip the dough onto the work surface. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. This helps to create the irregular, airy texture of a really good baguette. The dough will be wet to the touch but still lively.
  • 6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with the join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavily; concentrate on the backwards and forwards movement and gently use the weight of your arms to roll out the dough to 30cm long.
  • 7. Lay a baguette along the edge of the linen couche and pleat the couche up against the edge of the baguette. Place another baguette next to the pleat. Repeat the process until all 4 baguettes are lined up against each other with pleated couche in between each. Cover the baguettes with a clean tea towel and leave for 1 hour, until the dough has at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger.
  • 8. Preheat the oven to 475°F and put a roasting tray in the bottom of the oven to heat up.
  • 9. When the baguettes are risen, dust them lightly with flour, then slash each one 4 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife.
  • 10. Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.
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