#Recipe – Baguettes

Apparently “to make a good French stick, with its distinctive open texture, you need a very lively dough that’s just slightly soft, rather than firm.  A bit of steam at the start of baking will help give the baguettes the traditional glossy, razor-sharp crust.” Oh and from start to finish, including proving time, you need about 7 hours! So in my humble opinion pop down to your local bakery, it’s a lot less hassle!

What you need:

300g strong white bread flour
200g plain white flour
1 x 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1 tsp salt
approx. 300ml lukewarm water
1/2 tsp salt, dissolved in 4 tbsp. cold water, for brushing

What you do:

  • Mix together both flours in a large bowl, then tip about half into another smaller bowl and set one aside.
  • Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt of the yeast into the flour in the large bowl, then work in the lukewarm water, using your hand, to make a smooth thick batter.
  • Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave on the side for 3-4 hours until the surface of the batter is covered with tiny bubbles.
  • Uncover the bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water into the batter.
  • Mix the rest of the yeast and salt into the flour in the second bowl.  Gradually work this mixture into the batter using your hand to make a slightly soft but not sticky dough.
  • Lightly dust hands and worktop and knead the dough for approx. 10 minutes until it feels smooth and stretchy.  Put the dough back in the bowl, cover again with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  • Dust hands and worktop again and turn out dough – don’t punch down to deflate it.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut in half – in my experience, this was nigh on impossible as the dough just stuck to the knife.
  • Shape each piece into a rough ball, try not to handle too much, then cover loosely with a clean dry tea towel or clingfilm and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Move one piece of dough to the side.  Dust your rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough to a rectangle about 25 x 30cm. 
  • Roll up the rectangle fairly tightly from the long side, like a Swiss roll.  Tuck in the ends and pinch the seam together firmly.  The roll back and forth with your hands to make a sausage-shaped loaf approx. 40cm long with tapering ends.
  • Flour a large tray with flour, and lay the loaves on the tray.  Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for approx. 45 minutes.
  • While the loaves are rising heat your oven to 230°c.  Put your baking sheet into the oven to heat up, and place an empty roasting tin on the bottom of the oven.
  • When the loaves are ready for baking, quickly remove the baking sheet from the oven and slide the loaves onto it.  Brush them with the salty water then make several slashes along the loaves with a sharp knife – again not easy.  Put the baking sheet back into the oven.
  • Pour a jug of cold water into the roasting tin to create plenty of steam, quickly shut the oven door and bake for approx. 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack.

Results

This recipe is best eaten on the same day and I think without the salt water wash.

Since starting Weight Watchers one of the biggest things I miss eating is proper bread.  I’ve taken to buying the Weight Watchers branded bread which is perfectly ok but at the end of the day it is calorie and portion controlled – it’s not freshly baked thick bread! Slicing this baguette into 10 slices gives a Weight Watchers Smart Point value of 3SP per slice!  Bearing in mind I have an allowance of 30 per day – this type of bread is a diet killer!

Until next time…Happy Baking!

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