Mini Baguettes

I’ve always wanted to bake bread and this seems simple enough that you could do it yourself. One of the commenters in the original post says they use the whole recipe to bake one big loaf. I’ll include the link to the original as it has pictures to walk you through it. Also while this recipe uses a stand mixer you can find another way to do it. People have been baking bread without electricity for a few thousand years.  

The original post begins:  “If you’ve been intimidated by the thought of baking bread, take heart: It’s not hard, especially if you consider this: First, it’s okay to “cheat” by working the dough in a stand mixer. Professional bakers do it all the time. Second, make it mini. This recipe yields six baguettes; that’s six opportunities to practice your technique and get it right.

For best results, weigh the flour and water. This dough is very sticky, so when working with it, lightly flour your fingers and use only as much flour as you need to keep it from sticking to the work surface. If the dough sticks, use a plastic bowl scraper to loosen it and lightly flour the work surface.

Yields 6 mini baguettes.

1 lb. (3-1/3 cups) bread flour; more for dusting

2-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1-1/2 tsp. fine sea salt (or table salt)

Semolina (pasta flour) or fine cornmeal for sprinkling on the baking sheet

Tip: We tested this recipe with grocery store bread flour—King Arthur and Gold Medal brands worked fine. Artisan bread flours may have a higher protein content, which can cause them to absorb more water. If you want to experiment with them, feel free—just note that you might need to add more water to the dough than this recipe requires.

Mix the flour, yeast, and salt with a spoon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Weigh 12 oz. (1-1/2 cups) of lukewarm water (when you dip your finger in, it should feel neither hot nor cold) and add it to the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed for 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the dough hook; the dough will be very sticky. Mix, scraping down the bowl and hook every 2 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 6 minutes more.

Remove the dough hook and scrape any dough clinging to the hook into the bowl. Using a plastic bowl scraper, scrape all the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Lightly flour the dough and your fingers.

Tip: To get dough off your fingers, just rub them together with a little flour over the sink or garbage can.

Working around the dough, fold the edges into the middle in about 7 folds, pressing the edge down firmly into the center of the dough with your fingertips after each fold.

Remove the dough from the work surface, using the bowl scraper to loosen it if necessary, and put it seam side down in a medium bowl. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel and let the dough rest in a draft-free spot until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Line a large (17-1/2 x 13-inch) rimmed baking sheet with a linen or other flat-weave towel and generously flour the entire surface of the towel.

Using the bowl scraper, scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface, smooth top side down. Fold one side of the dough into the middle and press down firmly along the length of the seam. Fold in the opposite side and press again firmly along the length of the seam, forming a rectangle. Turn the dough over so the smooth side is up. With the bowl scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces by making one lengthwise and two crosswise cuts. Weigh them; they should each be about 4-3/4 oz. Equal them out by cutting a bit off the heavier pieces and tucking it under the lighter pieces.

Make a line of flour on your work surface to dredge the baguettes. Working with one piece of dough at a time, put it smooth side down on a lightly floured work surface.

Press it into a rectangle about 1/3 inch thick.

Fold a long edge of the dough into the center, pressing firmly with your fingertips along the seam all the way down to the work surface, folding with one hand and pressing with the other, working from one end to the other. Fold the other long edge into the center in the same way.

Continue to fold and press alternate edges until the baguette is 11 to 12 inches long, 5 to 6 folds.

Dredge the smooth side of the dough (the seam is on top) in the line of flour.

Set the baguette floured side up (seam down) on the towel and make a little fold in the towel to separate it from the next baguette.

Repeat with the remaining dough, setting the baguettes on the towel with a fold separating them. Cover with a linen or other flat-weave towel and let sit until roughly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

While the dough sits, position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (if you have a convection oven, use it). Have ready a small spray bottle of water.

Generously sprinkle two heavy-duty rimmed baking sheets (with or without sides) with semolina. When the baguettes are ready, carefully transfer them to the baking sheets with your hands, arranging 3 lengthwise per sheet. With a thin, very sharp knife, make 4 to 5 slashes on a sharp diagonal, 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep, on the tops of each baguette.

Open the oven and quickly spray about 10 squirts of water into the bottom and sides of the oven to make steam. Put the baguettes in the oven, spray again into the bottom and sides of the oven, and quickly close the door to trap the steam. Reduce the oven temperature to 475°F. Bake the baguettes for 6 minutes and then quickly turn them over on their baking sheets. Swap the sheets’ positions and bake for another 5 minutes.

Remove the baguettes from their baking sheets and put them scored side up directly on the oven racks (if making the baguettes ahead, don’t return them to the oven; see the box below). Bake until the baguettes are dark golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a rack to cool.

You can par-bake the baguettes for the first 11 minutes, cool them completely, and freeze for up to one month. To finish them, bake the frozen baguettes directly on the oven racks in a 450°F oven until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes.

From: Fine Cooking

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