Thursday, September 9, 2010

BBA: French Bread

The fourteenth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is french bread! 
I was very intimidated by this challenge. Me? Make french bread?! That yummy wonderful bread we love to smear brie and roasted garlic all over. It's a classic.

This was my first basic baguette ever and the first thing that stuck me was how much time it takes to make a baguette! It was 2 hours the first day to make the pâte fermentée and 5 hours the second day.

The pâte fermentée came together easily. It chilled and on day two I brought it out of the fridge to de-chill for an hour. I then mixed the bread dough. My dough tends to be a bit "rippy" but I did achieve a decent looking windowpane. The dough rested and then I shaped them into baguettes.
Shaping went well. I used the metal couche my mom gave me. I made 5 scoring marks on each. However, I wasn't thinking of the baking stone when I shaped them, I simply stretched the dough the length of the couche. This became a problem when I went to slide them into the oven. They were too long! Oh well. A little finagling and I got them on there.

Candy cane shaped baguettes anyone? What an idea for the holiday season!
We've pared down the house some and I didn't have my steam pan I've used in the past so instead I used a large round cake pan as my steam pan. It worked okay. This was the first time my husband has seen me hearth bake and as I kept opening the oven and spaying them with water he was quite impressed. It's always nice when you feel like you don't have a clue as to what you're doing and someone who is even more clueless is in awe of you.
The resulting bread was absolutely delicious! It had a wonderful crunchy crust and a soft middle. Reinhart says to wait 40 minutes before slicing. I was running late with dinner and this was the last thing out of the oven. I think I waited about 5 minutes.

An absolute redo bread for me!


  1. This looks amazing. Yes, candy canes at Christmas.

  2. Great job!! This was one of my hubby's very favorites (until we got to the pain a l'ancienne, anyway!). I can't believe you're on 14 already - way to go! =)

  3. I'm with Abby's husband--the pain a l'ancienne is fantastic--if you liked this, you will love it! (But I guess that's what won Reinhart the baking award--yes, I read the intro). I had to make the french bread twice because I had an emergency run to work on the weekend and it um, proofed 8 hours. But I agree it's delicious. At least you've been steaming the whole time--I didn't bother until recently: big mistake.

  4. So funny you have candy cane baguettes! And I agree with the other commenters here: the Pain à l'ancienne is even better.

  5. This shape could be good for the Christmas holidays! They look great, the inside is beautiful. I can almost taste it from that photo of it. I need to look into getting some of those metal pans...they would make life a whole lot easier when it comes to French bread. Hey, I am all caught up with reading your posts...and I enjoyed each and every one of them very much! Hugs.


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