Wednesday, August 01, 2007

sometimes, a baguette is just a baguette

I was in need of feeding the beast. It had been well over a week. I pulled it out of the fridge, mixed up some bread flour and water, and combined it all in a new bowl. I covered this for the night and left it out on the counter. I was jonesin' to make a loaf. All the summer fruit and veggies we've been consuming has me craving fluffy bread products. In the morning I asked the family if they had any special requests, because the beast was ready to do some work. "How about a nice plain baguette. Maybe even seeded?" was the response.
"Sounds good!" I pulled out the ingredients and got to work.

With everything in order on the kneading board, a strange calm came over me. It was somewhat like slipping into a dream, or maybe that moment in the dream where you realize that you are dreaming. Then it hit me. It has been far too long (like what, 2 months?) since I have made a baguette. As the dough came together and I turned it out onto the board, I found myself looking forward to being with nothing but the dough for the next five minutes. A return to nothing but kneading was what I needed. It turns out. Weird how life is really like dough.

After the dough rested for a bit, I added the salt and finished the kneading. A smooth satiny ball was awaiting fermentation. I oiled the big green casserole, plopped the dough in, and put it in the oven to rise. After punching it down about four times over the course of the day, it was ready for some shaping.

I wanted to make two baguettes so I left the baking stone in the cupboard and cut my dough in half. I took one piece and gently tugged it into a rectangle, then placed this on the floured board and rolled them lengthwise. After repeating this with the other piece I put them on my nifty little non-stick perforated pan dealie. Three slashes with a razor before putting in a 450 oven and my mouth started salivating. I was a mere 25 minutes from hot steamy bread. (By the way, that's approximately 16-17 minutes to bake, 1-2 to remove from oven and set on the rack, and 6 more to wait to cool under the "loss of skin when handled" threshold.)

Mmmmm, homemade sourdough. This and a stick of butter, and my life is complete.
Okay, my family, homemade sourdough and a stick of butter.
And water.
And.......oh crap! I was so excited about putting the bread in the oven, I forgot the seeds.

So they really ended up being just plain 'ol baguettes. I reached for the butter and then figured wheat bread, so why not wheat beer. Luckily, the latest batch was a hefeweizen, so I cracked one open.

Yeah......summertime and the livin' is. Well, here in the northern latitudes it's summer. For y'all up in this hemisphere I say stick to the simple things and enjoy some bread and beer. With veggies all around it's a nice change. Besides, you can make a toast to the first of August. That crazy month when the tomato plants are quietly taking over your garden. Now's the time to show them that you eat other things too, to keep them jealous and producing fruit like mad. Then in a few weeks, raid them and get to saucing. You're gonna need something to dip these baguettes in.

Or, if no tomatoes are running rampant in the yard, go get some salami, cheese, and mustard and go make yourself one of these. They're really yummy. Even when served on a plate contaminated with fruit.


K & S said...

homemade baguettes! wow! love the sub/hoagy, miss those here.

leena! said...

My dad used to make baguettes only one day a year--Super Bowl Sunday, the perfect side dish to a big bowl of chili. He cheated a bit by using frozen bread dough (blasphemy to you, I am sure, but hey, he's from India. Not exactly baguette central), but my favorite part was how he baked it. He is a forensic scientist and managed to get these two large heavy glass tubes from work, roughly three feet long each. He'd set the baguette dough in the buttered tubes overnight so they could rise, and then he'd bake them in there. I always loved watching the bread go from tiny to busting out of the tube and to this day, some of the best bread I have EVER eaten.

Rev. Biggles said...

Lunch time !!! Thanks for the idea mang. Beer for lunch.


Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: You can do it! Make your own hoagy. Hell, make a philly cheese steak sandwich while you're at it.

Leena: You make me think.......where might I find such items for baking experiments. I'm all over trying this method.

Rev. Biggles: Did you ever drink that porter I gave you? Or is this the beer you have in mind? (Watch out buddy, 22 ounces times 7.5% alcohol equals don't drive anywhere.) I hope lunch was nice.