For those of you that know me well or are regulars on my blog, you'll know (and are perhaps sick of hearing!) how much I love France. After spending my year abroad there last year, I became even more besotted with it and August can't come quick enough so I can spend another month there, basking in the warm sunshine of southern France (in between looking after a 4 year old French boy, which may be somewhat less relaxing!). I am desperate to spend a Saturday morning in the bustling market square of a Provençal town, taking in the sights and smells of all the wonderfully local produce, and I can almost taste the refreshing demi pêche waiting for me in a bar that will forever bring back happy memories of my year abroad. But most importantly, I cannot wait to have that first bite of baguette, fresh from the local boulangerie! That's when I'll know I'm back in France. Roll on the next few weeks...!
So, to get me in the French mood, the other day I decided to have a go at making the famous baguette to see if I create one anywhere near as good as the French ones...! I'd been meaning to make some bread for quite a while, but just not got round to it. It's not that it's difficult or anything, it just takes ages to make what with all the proving, resting, etc. But being the jobless, penniless citizen that I have recently become, I have a lot of free time on my hands at the moment, so there was no excuse to give it a go! It wasn't identical to the proper French baguette, but it was close and I was quite impressed. It tasted far more like the real thing than any I've tasted from supermarkets, which always look very similar, but just end up being a bit disappointing. (Gosh, I sound obsessed with baguettes haha - I'm not really, but I like to consider myself a bit of an expert on them after living so close to a boulangerie last year and eating one virtually every day last year!). (Not a whole baguette every day, I'd like to point out!!). Anyway, I found a recipe from Paul Hollywood (more of a bread expert than me, perhaps?) and I think it's pretty authentic. I may have made mine a bit too small, which meant they weren't quite as doughy in the middle as I'd have liked them to be, but the crust was perfect and I thought I was back in France for a second! Of course, it didn't quite live up to the French version, but as I don't have the proper French oven or the French flour, maybe I can be forgiven. I'd definitely make them again though, because they were really easy to make and it has satisfied my French food craving until August!
Baguette (makes 2) From Paul Hollywood
250g strong white bread flour
5g instant yeast
185ml cool water
Olive oil for kneading
- Lightly oil a Tupperware.
- Put the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl (don't put the salt directly on top of the yeast).
- Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon.
- As the dough starts to come together add the remaining water and bring it together with your hands.
- Tip onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for about 10 minutes until it is glossy and elastic (it may be quite wet, but can still be kneaded).
- Tip the dough into the prepared Tupperware and cover with a tea towel.
- Leave until it's doubled in size at least, which should take about an hour.
- Line a tray with greaseproof paper.
- Coat the surface with a little olive oil, then tip the dough onto it.
- Handle it gently to retain the airiness and divide into 2.
- Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough and folding the sides into the middle.
- Roll each into a sausage shape so the join runs along the length of the base.
- Beginning in the middle, gently roll out each sausage with your hands so they are the length of the oven tray.
- Place the baguettes on the tray.
- Cover and leave to cool for about an hour, until they have doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
- When the baguettes are risen and light, dust them lightly with flour.
- Slash each one three times along its length on the diagonal, using a sharp knife.
- Fill the roasting tray with hot water and put the bread in the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the baguettes are golden brown and have a light sheen.
- Cool on a wire rack, then enjoy!