Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baguettes

Way back in the early 1980's, I got into some serious bread baking.  I was totally enamored at that time with the Williams-Sonoma catalog.  It would be years later when I would finally enter a Williams-Sonoma store.  It was love!!

Back in 1981, The Trout and I belonged to a "Wine Group".   We were 5 couples who became friends through the local Newcomers Club.  We started out so 'good,' meaning, we would blind taste 5 or 6 wines and only eat a slice of bread to cleanse the palate.  We would try to meet once a month at someone's home.  Just let me say, very quickly, the slice of bread to cleanse the palate made way to some really nice gourmet dinners.  We also took the brown paper bags off of the wine bottles, and simply enjoyed the evening.

During these years - we stayed together in our group for 12 years - I kind of started 'my specialty' which was my recipe for Williams-Sonoma recipe for baguettes. 

Above you see the double metal pans that I purchased so many years ago.  You simply formed your loaves and baked them in them grooved pans.  They held the dough nicely, made a very crisp crust and kept the loaves at a small, petite baguette size.



Well, today was one of those days and I felt I had to revisit the old days, so I baked the baguettes.  I only wish our dear friends were here this evening to enjoy with us a glass of wine and a slice of bread.  We have scattered, as it happens.  So for Gene and Peg, Jim and Laurie, Mark and Kathy and John and Melva....a toast to the good old days.

Williams-Sonoma French Bread (Baguettes)

In a large bowl dissolve 1 envelope dry yeast, 1 Tbs. sugar and 2 tsps. salt in 2 cups warm water.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Stir in about 4 cups all-purpose flour, and turn out onto a floured surface.  Using a pastry scraper, lift and turn the dough, which will be very soft, until it coheres enough to knead.  Add more flour if necessary and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  Put in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 45 minutes in a warm place.

Dislodge dough from sides of bowl with a rubber spatula and turn out.  Gently pat flat, dust with a little flour, and fold in half to form a half circle, and then again to form a quarter circle.  Return to bowl and let rise for another 30 minutes (the rising develops the full flavor and ultimate lightness.)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, pat flat and fold in half.  Cut into four equal pieces, form into balls and let rest for 5 minutes.  Flatten each ball into an oval and roll up like a jelly roll.  Form into a loaf almost the length of the pan by rolling back and forth.

Line baguette pan with a pastry cloth or coarsely woven cloth and place formed dough in the furrows.  Cover with a clean towel and let rise again until almost double.  Pull the pans out from under the cloth and gently flip the loaves onto the pans which have been brushed with butter.  Use the cloth to help you, pulling the loaf towards the pan.  Brush the loaves with well-beaten egg mixed with a little water, and slash each loaf diagonally with a bakers' blade or razor blade.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  (I have always reduced this to 425 degrees because my ovens have always seemed very hot)

I have not checked if these pans are still available, but I suppose you could free-form these loaves as well.  Enjoy.

17 comments:

  1. Your group sounds like it was great fun! The baguettes look delicious with a nice crunchy crust. You make it sound very easy! I too love Williams-Sonoma stores!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've experienced some of the finest bread available to mankind starting with my mother's to the best available in France and Germany! Schnitzel's will always be my favorite as it is to all of the Wine Group!!

    I sure miss the Wine Group members as well and am glad we stay in touch with Jim and Laurie often as well as Peg and Gene. Great people all and we shared many a laugh and a few tears as well which only made us stronger for each other!

    Bread, Wine , good friends and Schnitzel- throw in good kids and grandkids and my trout fishing and it sure has made a good life for me - thanks Love - TROUT

    ReplyDelete
  3. You two are an amazing couple to have such good friendships and to share such a love of life. Salud!!

    And, the bread looks good, too. =)

    I have the bread pan for two loaves from W-S (also my FAVORITE store to visit; on any trip to Dallas, it is the ONLY for sure stop). I am currently pining for the slow-cooker that you can brown the meat inside it before placing it in the slow cooker jacket. ... the next trip. lol

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just so beautiful and airy! Great looking bread, Susan!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous10:27 PM

    Well- I got back tonight from a quick road trip to the cities and there on Facebook I see Susan writing about her bread. Let me tell you I have had to stay away from bread because good bread is almost as good as chocolate in my estimation. It would be a very hard decision for me--chocolate-bread, bread chocolate. And lets say they were like equally superb-- I might pick the bread.
    Susan's baguettes were to die for, (although I hate that expression because no one should die for something as silly as some great tasting food), but this is technically a food column so I am going to restate-"these baguettes were good enough to die for." Having said that, I still wish she would bake loaves just for me so I could eat my hearts content...and probably send my blood sugars into orbit by doing so, but oh well.
    As for the wine group, there is nothing to say about that except that it was unique and truly a gift from God. We were all much younger, back in the day. I even announced a pregnancy at one get together..that is how young we were. We had enourmously fun times talking about every subject imaginable from politics to policy, from travel to children. We held each other up when things went really bad or when our hearts were broken. We reveled in the joys we shared. Places in life such as this are a gift that will not come again. You cannot remake it or find it elsewhere.
    I too miss the chatter and discussions of the wine group more than the wine. It truly was a place where we could share ideas. I will never forget the night that Kathy and I broke out into song about "Soave Bola, how I love you" to the tune of Way down upon the Swanee River. Now that the Trout and the Schnitzel live near the Swanee river, it seems a bit poetic.
    Cheers... here is to the wine group and the bread. I wish we could all be there once more.
    Love, Laurie and Jim
    Cheeseheads, Packer fans, Badger fans from the great state of WISCONSIN-- WHERE IF YOU SAY 'WISCONSIN', YOU'VE SAID IT ALL. jump around, 5th quarter. Jump in the stands. Brats, beer, and honesty.

    ReplyDelete
  6. These pictures make my mouth water and wish that I was at home in France. There is nothing better than French bread, a glass of wine and some good cheese. Mmmmmmm Diane

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your wine group sounded like so much fun Susan. Those gorgeous baguettes look like they came straight from a French boulangerie.

    Happy Halloween to you and The Trout.
    Sam

    ReplyDelete
  8. Do you know I've never tried this, Susan. Your baguettes are so professional looking! I adore your pans!

    ReplyDelete
  9. How sad that your wonderful group has 'scattered' but that's how it goes. We've lost and added several couples to our group over the years and happily have kept it going.

    I think I need those pans! Your baguettes look delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Your bread look soooo good!!! I love bread slathered with butter or really good jam! And your wine group sounds like it was a blast, something else I'd really enjoy! Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your baguettes look delicious--crusty and a few holes and perfection! I made French bread when we lived in Lubbock since there were no bakeries that satisfied my husband's taste for "real" bread. I even stood by the oven door so that I could spritz in cold water every 3 to 4 minutes. Now that we live in the Chicago area, there's no need because there are so many excellent bakeries. The truth is that I miss baking bread!! I love Williams-Sonoma from the catalog to the stores. There is always something there that I need.

    Best,
    Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  12. Those are some beautiful baguettes! The wine club sounds like it was so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I had planned on making this with supper this evening but ran out of steam. I will give it a try another time. Its getting to be soup weather here so I'll get to soon> Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Beautiful loaves Susan. My mouth is watering. I may try to bake some baguettes but I never have any luck with yeast dough.

    If you love WIlliams Sonoma catalogs, you MUST get your hands on a King Arthur Flour catalog. I read them in bed before I go to sleep and dream about all the lovely thing. They have a French Lame - the blade that's used to cut the loaves before baking.

    Suzanne

    ReplyDelete
  15. SUzanne, I do get the King Arthur catalogs, in fact, I was at their store in May 2009...see my blog archive on the right. I did use the French lame which I bought there, but was a little disappointed in its performance.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What fun your group must have been! The baguettes are beautiful. Glad to hear that it is cooling off in Florida.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I do like these pans and perfect for sticks of bread.

    Your recipes all look good but having just come home from dinner with friends I am not lingering there too long.

    ReplyDelete