The Baguettes I made last time were yummy, but I’m testing lots of different recipes. This time I tried the Classic Baguettes from King Arthur Baking.
This recipe was relatively easy – you just have to plan ahead. I made the starter/poolish at 5pm the night before to give it plenty of time to expand and become bubbly by the morning.
The next morning, I got started on the next step at 7am. For step 2, I used my KitchenAid and that worked great.
There are a lot of steps, so this is not an ideal undertaking if you have a lot of activities the next morning. The good thing is it'll be all done baking by lunchtime.
For Step 8 I used a baker’s couche and that worked better than I expected.
The only change to the recipe for me was for Step 12. I already had the cast iron pan heating in the bottom of the oven. Once I placed the bread in the oven, then I added 2 cups of ice cubes to the cast iron pan and shut the door quickly.
I cooked them for exactly 25 minutes, and they were as yummy as they were pretty. My son commented that I got the “cuts” right this time. The difference is that I have more practice with the baker’s lame. Definitely my best try at baguettes so far. This recipe is a keeper, as long as you plan and schedule ahead of time for it. (Not unlike any of other bread!)
If you try this one, let me know how it goes!
Classic Sourdough from the BBC
So now that I’m following all of these amazing bakers on IG, I’ve been inspired to try different sourdough recipes. So I tried this recipe for Classic Sourdough that I found on the BBC.
As you can tell from the picture, I did not get that classic, open crumb that sourdough is known for. And I don’t know why. My starter was active, and I followed all of the instructions perfectly. It was very humid the day I made this, and the dough was very sticky. Was that it? I’d love any advice from my fellow bakers. Or even a reference to your favorite never-fail sourdough recipe.
That being said, it was super yummy, and the crust was perfectly crumbly. It’s almost all gone and it’s still on the cooling rack. My taste testers approve.
If any of you want to try this recipe variation for yourselves, here is the link to the BBC’s Classic Sourdough. And let me know how it goes!
Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Week
Being a Delaney (by marriage), and it being St. Patricks’ Day Week – I felt compelled to try Irish Soda Bread. In doing my research ahead of time, I learned a lot about its origins.
Soda Bread became popular in Ireland when bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) became available as a leavening agent. Bread soda made it possible to work with the “soft” wheat grown in Ireland’s climate, versus the “hard” wheat flour like we have in the US today which needs yeast to rise properly. “Soft” wheat doesn’t work well with yeast but is great for quick breads, like soda bread.
There is also a Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread and on their website you can learn a lot more about the history of soda bread. But according to them, the earliest published soda bread recipe was in a London magazine in 1836.
Soda Bread’s popularity was easy to understand –the soda wasn’t perishable, it was relatively inexpensive, and the other two main ingredient – wheat flour and buttermilk (which is a by-product of making butter) were easily available.
Before baking, a cross is traditionally cut on the top of the soda bread. It is said that this is done to bless the house and ward off the devil. But it is also practical - it lets the heat get through to the thickest part of the bread so it can stretch and rise. It also automatically separates the bread into 4 equal quadrants making it easy to break apart, hence both breaking bread and giving thanks.
My husband found the recipe for me to try – it is “Granny Reynold’s Soda Bread.” According to the recipe, “Casements Bar in San Francisco serves this tender and tangy soda bread, based on a family recipe from co-owner Gillian Fitzgerald.” Gillian says its equally delicious topped with butter and jam for breakfast or dipped in stew for supper. I can say that it was delicious with butter and jam – I used my favorite local Atlanta Emily’s G’s Triple Berry Jam. And I'd recommend this bread not just for St. Patrick's Day, but any time. Yum!
Classic French Baguettes
My guys love French bread. If we get a loaf at the bakery, half of it is gone before dinner. Since I knew it would be a crowd pleaser, I have been looking at lots of recipes for classic French baguettes, trying to decide which one to try first. I decided to go with this recipe from Baker Bettie and it was a great success.
I learned a couple of things along the way as well:
1. Don't rush the process: You definitely want to let the poolish sit overnight. It made for a very delicious bread.
2. I easily adapted this recipe to use my new baguette pan and made 4 smaller loaves instead of two large ones.
3. Since French bread doesn't have any fat, it needs to be wet. As a result, it can get stuck in the holes of a pan like this so you will want to use parchment paper as well.
4. For shaping the loaves I used a baker's couche which made me feel very professional, and did a great job of letting the loaves expand but keep their shape.
5. I have just been using a sharp paring knife to score my loaves, but after seeing some of the beautiful designs that people are making on their loaves with the proper tools, I decided to step it up. I purchased this baker's lame tool and it worked great.
6. One last thing - I only needed to cook these loaves for 20 minutes and they were perfect.
I encourage you to try this one - it was an easy process and a crowd pleaser. Let me know how it goes!
Kris Delaney is a marketing executive, foodie, travel enthusiast, and book nerd based in Atlanta, GA.