Bread, does it get any easier than that? I mean ingredient wise silly. Flour, water, yeast and salt are all you need. You can add butter, sugar or any multitude of additions, but in general, it’s pretty simple. That is unfortunately where the simplicity of bread ends and the anxiety begins. Ask your coworkers when was the last time they made yeast bread from scratch. They may very well tell you never. As a matter of fact, before this whole bake for good thing started, I can honestly say that I avoided yeast breads like brussel sprouts(my kryptonite). It kind of goes back to baking class in culinary school. I never quite mastered it. Then there was the “incident” with a magazine I worked on for years called Taste Of Home. I had to make a triple braided bread for a shoot. Three doughs made with three kinds of flour. Well, let’s just say that when I was done, my triple braided bread could have been used as a weapon, but never as something you’d put in your mouth. Amazingly, I wasn’t given a lot more yeast breads after that. Enter bread anxiety.
Fast forward twenty years, and you have a different situation with me. I actually enjoy making bread now. As someone once said, “If you can read, you can cook”. Wise words. Kind of takes the anxiety out of it. After all, I can read, so I should be able to cook, or in this case make bread. The mission this time was to make French baguettes using King Arthur Flour’s French Style Flour. I simply followed the recipe on the back of the package. You can find the recipe Here. The only thing I changed, was adding flax seed per Jena’s request. O.K., let’s go to crazy town and start messing with the recipe. After all, what could go wrong? (Enter triple braided bread flashback). Actually, I just added the flax seed with the flour, yeast and salt, and it worked out just fine. In this case, it was two tablespoons of flax seed to the original recipe.
The process of making French baguettes is pretty much the same as with the bread your grandma makes or used to make. Get the yeast up and running by combining some yeast, flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and mix it till you have soft dough. Let is rise for about thirty minutes, then knead the dough with a little more flour until the gluten forms. Gluten? It sounds a little like a character in a Harry Potter book, but it’s really just the flour and yeast being worked until it springs back when pressed with your finger after being kneaded for 7-10 minutes. Then comes the moment of truth, waiting the excruciating sixty to ninety minutes to let the dough double in size. It doesn’t matter how many times I have made dough, I always love seeing how big the dough is after it’s risen. It’s like watching a child grow up before your eyes. Actually, it’s nothing like that, but it is pretty cool watching science at work anyway. Cut the dough into three parts, form into whatever long shapes you want, such as baguettes or braids, then sprinkle with herbs, cheese or even olives. Let the dough rise again and then bake until golden brown.
We were fortunate enough to use a baker’s couche, which was an easy way to get that nice baguette shape. The last step was enjoying the bread. I was not able to enjoy the breads of my labor due to time constraints, but Jena and Brandon enjoyed them anyway with some flavored olive oils for dipping. Lucky. So, the next time you hesitate making bread, remember, the worse thing that can happen is you end up with a rock hard baguette, but at least your house will smell awesome. Don’t add too much flour and you’ll be just fine. If you’re feeling really brave, try using that rarely used lace napkin as a stencil for some creative designs on the baguettes after they are done baking. With tarts and baguettes under our belt, I think I’m in the mood for a little chocolate to cap off this Bake For Good extravaganza. You will want to make this one, I promise. There will also be an opportunity to win some great King Arthur gifts as well, so check back on our next article. Double chocolate brownie cake with salted caramel and boiled cider bourbon frosting. Till next time, remember to bake with love and love to Bake For Good.