Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baguette fail

While studying abroad in Paris, I feel in love with French bread, specifically the baguette.  Every morning I would have the same thing for breakfast: plain yogurt, baguette, tea, and milk.  I remember one day my host mom went out early in the morning to get a fresh baguette for my breakfast.  When I woke up it was still warm.  I said thanked her she responded with "c'est les petites choses" or "it's the little things."

The word baguette actually does not mean bread.  It refers to the long skinny shape of the loaf. Anything that is long and skinny can be called a baguette.  The first time I went out for Chinese food in France, I got very confused when I was asked if I wanted baguettes.  I thought wow, I know the French love their bread...but in a Chinese restaurant?!? The waiter actually asking me if I wanted chopsticks!

When I came back from France, I took an entire day trying to recreate a true baguette with my mom.  We let the baguette rise over and over and over.  We brushed it with water while it was in the oven to create the crispy crust.  After belaboring over the bread, we had a pretty decent product.  Not as good as in France, but pretty close.

Last weekend, I decided to try again.  I found a recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and immediately became suspicious.  The directions only called for an hour of rising.  I thought, this probably won't work, but I'll try it anyways.  As it turns out, my instinct was correct.  The baguette looked pretty delicious, but the texture and taste were both off.  It was so bad I only ate one piece and threw the rest away.  Next time I'll leave it to the boulangerie.

P.S: In case you're wondering how a baguette keeps its long skinny shape, the answer is a baguette pan.  This pan, pictured above, is basically two half cylinders attached to one another.   There are also wider versions for making artisan loafs.

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