There’s not much I love more than bread. I’m talking hot, crusty, chewy bread with an incredible, homemade flavor that makes your eyes roll up in the back of your head -and I’ve yet to meet anybody that doesn’t feel the same way. There is a reason bread is a part of almost every culture around the world. In my home, love is expressed with a warm loaf of bread, and no meal is complete without it! If this describes you at all, then get out the flour- you’re going to want to try this recipe!
If you don’t have much experience with making bread, or if you don’t have any experience at all and are a little nervous to get your feet wet, I can’t think of a more perfect recipe to get you started. No-knead breads have been around for a while, and are exactly what they sound like. Simply put, you mix flour, water, salt and yeast (and a little pinch of sugar) together in a large pot or bowl, let it rise, then shape and bake it. It’s that easy! If you already have some experience with no-knead breads, this recipe is a variation on the King Arthur Flour no-knead white bread recipe. I reduced the water by 1/2 c to produce a denser, less-sticky dough that’s perfect for rolling into the classic baguette shape. In fact, I roll it out on an unfloured surface and it never sticks. This means two things, first it simplifies the recipe, because I don’t have to worry about incorporating too much flour when I shape the dough, which means it’s faster to make, and secondly, cleanup is a snap! (Can I hear an amen?!)
Before you get started, here are a few helpful pointers:
- Always bloom your yeast separately, before adding to the flour. This way, if the yeast is no good, you’re not wasting a whole bunch of flour.
- I like to weigh my flour instead of measuring by volume. Volume can vary a lot depending on the method you use. If you measure flour by sprinkling it into your measuring cup, then gently sweeping off the excess, you would ultimately end up with less than if you dip your cup into the canister and sweep off the excess. The easiest route is to just use a kitchen scale to weigh out 2 lbs of flour.
- Don’t worry about precise water temperatures. Just make sure it isn’t scalding, or else it will kill the yeast. If it’s pleasantly warm, and you can hold your finger in it for up to a minute without it being uncomfortable, it should be just right.
- The dough should rise at room temp until it doubles, then it needs to be refrigerated for a minimum of 1 1/2 – 2 hrs. Keep in mind that this is only a minimum. The real secret to a deep, wonderfully developed flavor is to leave the dough in the fridge for longer periods of time – up to 7 days.
- Shaping the dough is easy – I’ll get to that in the recipe, but if you would like to see a nice visual on how it’s properly done, I urge you to check out this youtube video of a french baker practicing his art- it’s really impressive!
- Remember the golden rule of bread baking- Don’t worry, even if you mess up, you still get to eat bread in the end!
No-Knead Artisan Baguettes
- 2 lbs all-purpose flour (6 1/2 – 7 1/2 C)
- 2 1/2 C warm water
- 1 1/2 T instant yeast
- 1 T salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
In a large stock pot or bowl, stir together flour and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Set aside and let bloom for 5-10 minutes. Yeast should begin to bubble up to the surface of the water.
Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour in all of the wet mix. Stir well (I like to use a large serving fork) until combined. The dough should be a little dry and lumpy, but should be mostly uniform. Cover and let set in a warm area for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
Transfer pot to the refrigerator, and let set for at least two hours, or up to 7 days.
When you are ready to shape the dough, start by flouring a clean kitchen towel. If you have a rolling pin, place it under one edge of the towel, to give your bread something to rest against. This will force the bread to rise up instead of flattening out. You are essentially creating a baker’s couche.
Divide dough into 3-4 roughly equal size balls. Don’t get too fussy. The dough should have a dense, spongy texture, but not sticky. Place one ball of dough on a clean, non-floured surface. Flatten with your hand into a very roughly shaped rectangle. Again, don’t get too fussy. Fold up the bottom 1/3 and press the edge into the dough. Roll up the rest of the way, as tightly as possible. You should now have a small tube of dough. Roll this tube using the flats of your hands, working from the center out towards the edges, until you have a nice, slender baguette shape. Place baguette in couche and repeat until all dough is shaped, being sure to push up some of the towel in between each loaf to prevent them from sticking together.
Let dough set for 30-40 minutes, then preheat oven to 450 f. and slash the top of the dough with a very sharp knife. Aim for 4 slashes per loaf. Let the dough rest another 10-15 minutes, until the oven is heated. Gently lift each loaf and place on a sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a dark golden-brown.
Cool 20-30 minutes before slicing (yeah right). Enjoy!
Makes 3 – 4 Baguettes
- French baguettes (foodsgood.wordpress.com)