The Perfect Baguette - From the Larousse Book of Bread by Éric Kayser
We are all really excited here at Bakerybits - there is a Larousse Book of bread freshly translated just out. The book is a step-by-step guide to French bread and as I turned each page it was everything I had ever been taught as an apprentice in a French bakery many years ago. It is written by Éric Kayser, who is is one of France’s most famous and respected bakers. Master baker and entrepreneur Éric Kayser grew up in Alsace, and is the fifth generation of a baking family. Éric is passionate about creating artisan bread and the book shows you how easy it is to make.
As with all the Larousse books it is a bread gastronomic bible, with simple, full instructions and every detail of bread baking covered, I can't recommend it highly enough... and think that this is set to be the go to book for many years. We have got a VERY limited number of signed copies, so please don't dilly dally if you want one.
I for one think that the French make perfect baguettes (well of course they would) so we are delighted to share with you just one of the recipes, for Éric Kayser's French baguettes.
Makes 3 baguettes, each about 300 g
- Mixing & kneading: 15 min
- First resting: 1 h
- First rising: 1 h 30 min
- Second resting: 30 min
- Proofing: 1 h 40 min
- Baking: 20 min
- 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting (in UK read this as strong white)
- 325 g (scant 1 ⅓ cups) water at 68°f (20°c)
- 100 g (scant ½ cup) liquid sourdough starter (or 25 g [3 tablespoons] dry sourdough starter)
- 3 g (1 teaspoon) fresh baker’s yeast, crumbled
- 10 g (2 teaspoons) salt
KNEADING IN A STAND MIXER
Put the flour and water in the bowl and mix for 4 minutes at low speed. Remove the bowl from the machine and cover it with a damp cloth. Leave to rest for 1 hour, then add the starter, fresh yeast, and salt. Knead with the dough hook for 4 minutes at low speed, then for 7 minutes at high speed.
Put the flour on a work surface or in a mixing bowl and make a large well in the centre. Pour in two-thirds of the water and mix until all the flour has been incorporated. Leave to rest for 1 hour under a damp cloth, then incorporate the rest of the water, the starter, fresh yeast, and salt. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
Dust the work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Fold each piece over on itself, pulling gently to stretch into a longish log. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, use the palm of your hand to flatten it gently. With the long side facing you, fold in a third towards the center and press along the edge with your fingertips [ 1 ]. Swivel the dough 180 degrees. Fold in the other long edge so that it overlaps in the center and press with the heel of your hand. Fold one half on top of the other, and seal the edges together with the heel of your hand [ 2 ].
With lightly floured hands, roll the baguette out to 21 inches (55 cm) long, then pinch each end into a point [ 3 ]. Shape the other 2 baguettes the same way.
Carefully lift the baguettes onto a lightly floured baker’s cloth, seams underneath. Separate them by making folds in the cloth. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to proof for 1 hour 40 minutes, by which time the baguettes will have increased in volume [ 4 ].
Place a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450°f (230°c). Gently place the baguettes, seam down, on another baking sheet lined with parchment (baking) paper. Dust with flour and make 4 evenly spaced oblique slashes along the length of each baguette [ 5 ]. Just before putting the baguettes in the oven, pour 50 g (scant ¼ cup) of water onto the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire