03 February 2011

Lightly Fenneled Rustic Baguettes

Even though I just got a new bread book, I couldn't stop myself from making another batch of rustic baguettes. I can't get over how amazing these things are, and how much you can modify them. I've cooked them plain, with bacon, and completely messed up with too much water and some sage. Each one of these has been delicious; it takes me 45 minutes one night. Then, anytime for the next four days, I can be about an hour and a half from stuffing myself with airy, crispy morsels of perfect bread. This bread is pure in both ingredients (containing only flour, water, salt, and yeast) and deliciousness.
This time I went with a standard half batch (makes 6-10 baguettes, depending on sizing) and a very, very small amount of dried fennel seed. Small amount meaning no more than 10 seeds. I may call them "lightly fenneled" in the title, but the flavor permeated every bit of the bread. I one new thing with this bread - I cooked it on the bottom rack and put the steam pan above the bread. They cooked for maybe 13 minutes (usually 15-18) and had more crisp than I expect from the bread. Moving them up a rack (but steam pan above) is probably in order for the next batch.
A bit on the recipe: this is technically a "no-knead" bread but I've looked around on the internet and a lot of the no-knead breads I see look airless and dense. Fit for a sandwich (the kind you would pack for a lunch at work/school, not the kind you would feed to a connoisseur of sandwiches or the king of Sandwichonia), maybe, but not for eating unadorned. This bread is anything but - take a piece, a single piece, of crispy yet thick bacon, a leaf of lettuce, a few slices of fresh Avocado, and the king of Sandwichonia would grovel at your feet for a bite.

To make that last paragraph have more to do with the before and after photos above, the before is after 1 minute of mixing, 5 minute rest, 1 minute of mixing. The photo on the right was taken after the 4 rounds of stretch-and-fold that followed. To wit: wetting your hand; feeling the wonder of dough between your hands as you pull it four times; a rinsing of the hands (almost ritualistic; an ablution); a ten minute rest for the bread.

No comments:

Post a Comment