One of the things I’ve learned in the past few years since beginning this blog is how much I enjoy making Breads. Baguettes have been on my list to make for quite sometime, but after reading about the time-consuming and extremely fussy (at least in my opinion) method for making a baguette, I was a bit put off.
Yet I still wanted freshly baked baguette at home. So much that I found myself sitting by the fireplace reading about baguettes this past Saturday night. Such an exciting life I lead…
As I read through the 2 full pages at 10-12 point font of instruction in my copy of The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition (plus the 3 pages of introduction) I kept trying to convince myself that it was doable. Despite the length of time from start to finish in the recipe, I knew that this one should at least be worth the effort. Cook’s Illustrated has never let me down with a recipe.
In the back of my mind I kept thinking: 20-24 hours for a loaf of bread? No Way! Who has time for that? And that’s when I remembered the copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day I had purchased a little over a year ago, still sitting unused in my cookbook cabinet.
Five minutes a day? Was it too good to be true? (Which is why the book sat unused for so long) Definitely not. This baguette had hardly any prep time and start to finish took a fraction of the time in a traditional recipe.
Additionally, the recipe provided me with enough starter dough to make 3 more loaves whenever I wanted. All I have to do is take a one pound hunk of dough out, prep it to bake, let it rest for 20ish minutes and pop it in the oven.
Will I still make my other Yeast Bread recipes? Sure. I still love those recipes. Logan and Madeline enjoy helping me with the kneading process. But now, freshly baked bread – any kind I want and even on busy days – is a daily reality.
See how this dough does as a Pizza Crust over here: Black Bean Mexican Pizza
Light Whole Wheat Baguette
This "master recipe" can be used for many different types of loaves, pizza crusts, and more.
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
makes four 1 lb. loaves
The Master Recipe: Boule
3 cups 110 degree F water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups freshly ground hard white wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
To prepare the dough:
Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a large 5-quart bowl or resealable, lidded (but not airtight) plastic food container. The yeast does not need to proof as in traditional recipes.
Mix the whole what and all-purpose flour together in a medium bowl, then add it to the large bowl containing the water. Stir the flour into the water mixture using a wooden spoon. You don't need to knead the bread, but if stirring becomes too hard you can reach your wet hands into the bowl and press the mixture together.
Cover the container with a lid (not airtight). Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-5 hours - until it begins to collapse or flatten on top.
After this, you can take a portion of the dough to make a loaf at anytime - OR refrigerate the covered container 3 hours or overnight before shaping a loaf.
To shape the loaf:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and an empty broiler tray on a lower shelf.
Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour, then cut off a 1 lb. piece for use and return the remaining dough to the refrigerator. A kitchen scale is helpful, or you can estimate by removing a piece about the size of a grapefruit.
Dust the piece with flour and shape it into a ball. Once it is cohesive, you can stretch and elongate the dough to form a cylinder approximately 2 inches in diameter. Dust a pizza peel (or sheet of parchment if you don't have one) with whole wheat flour. Place the loaf on the dusted surface and let rest for 20 minutes.
After resting, paint water over the surface of the loaf with a pastry brush. Then, using a serrated bread knife make longitudinal, diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf.
Slide the loaf onto the hot stone. Add 1 cup of hot water to the broiler tray and immediately shut the oven door. Bake for 25 minutes, or until deep brown and firm to the touch. Cool before eating.
For breakfast, a slice of baguette is delicious topped with ricotta and jam.
I am not mentioning Cook’s Illustrated with any intentional slander to their good name. I was simply illustrating that, in some instances a non-traditional approach is simpler. I reference my Cook’s Illustrated cookbooks often and love many of their recipes.