Monday, January 21, 2008

[New York]: New York Bakes Baguettes for Company

So I tried the baguette thing again, using Rose Levy Beranbaum's fantastically complicated recipe. And the baguettes turned out really great, though I don't see how i can give much of the credit to Rose's recipe. Here's why: I screwed up this recipe a lot.

1.) I did not ferment one of the two starters for three hours before putting it in the fridge. It was 11:00 PM. I was sleepy. I just put it in the fridge.

2.) I realized I needed to double the recipe after I had already made both the starters. So I just doubled the rest of the ingredients plus flour and water as if I had made twice the amount of the starters. So it really only got half as much fermented flavor as it was supposed to.

3.) I did not "gently stretch" the baguettes 30 minutes into their proofing phase to increase the number of bubbles. I had other things to do.

4.) I did not try to "gently roll" the baguettes onto the baking stone because last time they got totally deflated when I did that. Instead, I proofed them for hours in a nonstick pan and put the pan right on the baking stone to cook.

5.) I cooked them even hotter than she said (475 degrees) and for a shorter period of time (20-25 minutes). I did not rotate them half way through the baking "for more even baking", because the Urban Caballero was using the stove top and I did not need to get in his way.

Results: Really excellent, fluffy, browned baguettes - misshapen from being on the loaf pan, but moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside - that were immediately snarfed up by our dinner guests and we're polishing off the leftovers for lunch today with artichoke tapenade and brie.

Theory: The trick to good texture is putting the baguettes in the oven when they are fluffy and baking them at a very high temperature. (I also steamed them by throwing ice cubes in a preheated cast iron pan sitting on the floor of the oven - this was super fun and probably helped make a brown crust). Though when I look at pictures in the book, her baguettes are not super fluffy when she puts them in. Oh well, works for me. Next time I'll try proofing them a little bit less, then taking them out of the oven when they're half-baked and putting them right on the baking stone to see if I can get a good bottom crust.

Next up: Pumpernickel!



At 5:09 PM, Blogger melinama said...

Bread pretty much turns out great as long as it rises. These look yummy. I don't like pumpernickel.

At 8:49 PM, Blogger Hannah said...

I don't like it either, but often I learn to like something by cooking it (I started liking black pepper because I enjoyed grinding it into my food). Also I think my recipe was developed by someone who doesn't like it either - she uses lots of cocoa and coffee powder and not too much heavy rye flour.

At 7:02 PM, Blogger NinaK said...

Did those turn out like real baguettes, with a crispy crust? They look kind of soft. Bread is really hard to make, I think. I had a bad experience with the New York Times recipe for bread that you supposedly could make without kneading. The only thing I had luck with was focaccia (see my other blog).

Here in NY, where you are, Hannah, one can so easily buy a good baguette that it is not worth the time to bake one's own. Look at the French. They do not bake their own baguettes. This is considered a specialty task, and they rely on the "professionals."


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