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(Baguettes: Stage 1)

Well, that went far better than expected. I followed Richard’s shaping method and have to confess that making long thin bits of dough was never easier. It is something I have struggled with all my life – I was fond of making plaited breads in my youth but my “sausages” were always poor. Now… is it the method or is it the dough? Do I acknowledge Bertinet or Bacheldre? Is it a combination of those two plus my newly acquired deeper knowledge of bread-making techniques?

I have no answer for you. I simply rejoice in the fact that I achieved the required length in moments, rather than taking many minutes of sweating and cursing. I am not saying that my shapes are perfect, but that I am personally very happy with what I achieved. Only I know what has gone before.

As I write this, I have three baguettes proving on top of the Rayburn and the oven is cranked up to 250°C. The kettle is boiling – I’ll add some water to a roasting pan as I can’t mist with cold water.

I feel quite nervous!

(Intermission)

The rested dough, divided in 4 by eye (I should have weighed, but I did not.)

Divided dough

Divided dough

Formed into balls and then rested again – this was the point at which I remembered that I needed to keep 200g back, so I retrieved it and bagged it in the ‘fridge.

Lovely little balls of dough, approx 210g each

Lovely little balls of dough, approx 210g each

Forming the sticks was easy and fast, as already mentioned. I rested them in a tin, so that the table could be used for more important matters, such as eating.

Ready for proving

Ready for proving

Moving the baguettes between cloth (in a roasting tin), “peel” (rimless baking sheet), and pre-heated baking sheet proved more difficult than Richard promised. He said the dough would be strong and easily handled, but I managed to deflate two of my baguettes. They did bounce back in the oven, though.

I have no photographs of the battered baguettes (nothing to be proud of!) and very few beauty shots of the finished loaves. It was not for lack of trying there, I took many artfully arranged shots but camera shake took over and ruined most of the photographs.

Two baguettes and an epi

Two baguettes and an epi

My, I love that epi. Such pretty bread!

Beautiful

Beautiful

What a fantastic way to serve crusty rolls. There will be more epis is my life, I assure you of that.

The unbleached flour makes a bread that looks like wholemeal, but it is not. It really is a light soft crumb, of white bread.

This is white bread. No, really.

This is white bread. No, really.

Mr L is OK with the colour. He liked the bread. Especially when we tried it warm, with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Personally, I find this bread a little too salty – it was fine with olive oil but I would not care to put a standard UK salted butter on top. I may have to buy further unsalted butter supplies.

Too good for words

Too good for words

We are having problems with a recalcitrant central heating boiler so will spend the rest our our evening in front of the fire, with the Inkspots – Mr L has a new 50 track album.

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