Fall & French Bread
Fall is a great time for Chili, slow cooker stews, or just a nice charcuterie plate. All of which are yummy with some fresh French Bread. I have had good luck with the Classic Baguette recipe from King Arthur Baking, so I tried it again. I make the poolish the night before (around 5 or 6pm – before I get started on dinner) with the plan to cook it in time for an early dinner the next day. To do that, you need to get started at 7am the next day.
There are a lot of little steps to this one, so this is NOT ideal for a Saturday morning with a lot of activities. But if you know the next morning’s games are a washout, then game ON!
The only change I make to this recipe is for Step 12. I place the cast iron pan on the bottom rack of the oven while the oven heats in the bottom of the oven. And 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.
This recipe is a keeper, as long as you plan ahead of time for it and make your poolish. Enjoy!
Classic Baguette recipe from King Arthur Baking
Ghost Bread, or No-knead Ghost Fougasse
I saw this adorable recipe in my Insta feed from Simply So Good and had to give it a try in the Delaney test kitchen. Plus - I love learning new French words.
A Fougasse is a type of bread typically associated with Provence but found in other variations in other regions as well. Some versions are sculpted to resemble an ear of wheat.
These ghosts are "souper" cute for Halloween, and for dipping into soups or with pasta.
I’m listing the recipe as posted on simplysogood.com, but I’d like to make a few recommendations:
The recipe says to break the dough into 8-12 pieces for the “ghosts.” Maybe I let the dough sit in the fridge for tool long overnight, but I had a lot of dough. So I would say that it could make closer to 20 ghosts. Mine were just too big and as a result were too puffy and took too long to bake. They would have started to burn on the bottom before they were going to turn golden on top.
Also, the recipe doesn’t list a temperature for the oven. Depending on how hot your oven runs, I think 350 – 400F works great.
No-knead Ghost Fougasse
· 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 2 teaspoons salt
· 1 teaspoons yeast
· 1 teaspoon sugar
· 1 1/2 cups warm water
· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 tablespoons butter melted
· Flakey sea salt optional
Part I: the Fougasse Dough
1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, yeast, and sugar. Stir to combine.
2. Add water and olive oil. Stir just until all the flour has been mixed in and no dry spots appear. The mixture will look kind of shaggy, but not too lumpy.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until the dough has risen to double the size. Do not punch the dough down. Place in refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours.
Part II: Shaping the Fougasse
1. Remove dough from the refrigerator and pour it onto a floured surface.
2. Divide the dough into 8-12 pieces depending on how large you'd like to fougasse. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes to make it easier to shape. Pull and shape the dough into an oval or round shapes.
3. Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife make slits in the dough. Pull and stretch the dough to create fun ghost shapes and faces. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover and let rise for 10-20 minutes. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes or until golden.
4. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter and flakey sea salt.
· Fougasse dough can be left to rise overnight and used without chilling.
· Chilling the dough makes shaping the fougasse easier.
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.