French Baguettes

When you love to cook and bake, and you get a new piece of equipment, you need to use it as soon as it arrives. I just received my Emile Henry Baguette baker. It’s just beautiful. A bright burgundy color.

The baker came with a little instruction booklet and a few recipes. When this pandemic first began last March my friend Jane and my daughter and son-in-law were in a bread making frenzie. A bit of competition as well. We shared bread pictures with each other. Jane and I never won the most beautiful loaf competition but we sure had fun trying. A few times a week we were making loaves of bread. When yeast was hard to find we made sour dough. And we bought equipment for that. A lame (an implement that holds a razor blade and is used to make the deep slashes in the bread dough), a bread cloche, and proofing baskets. We even ordered a 50 pound bag of King Arthur flour and a 25 pound bag of stone ground rye flour. We all took a time out over the Summer months but Fall is here and Winter will be soon. And we will be, once again, sheltering at home and baking bread. The baguettes are the simplest bread of all. My instruction/recipe book had a recipe for baguettes stuffed with caramelized onion and goat cheese and topped with a litttle rosemary, cheddar cheese, and honey. That was the first recipe I tried.

Ingredients:

1 large onion peeled and chopped

4 T olive oil

9 oz (2 cups) of AP flour

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp active dry yeast

5 oz warm water, 100 degrees F

7 oz fresh goat cheese crumbled

1 tsp rosemary (I used fresh)

1 oz grated cheddar cheese

3 T honey

Heat 2 T of the olive oil in a heavy skillet and cook the onion over medium heat until it is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. My onions were small so I used two of them. Set aside to cool.

Combine the flour, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl. One of the things that I’ve learned during all of this bread making is to weigh my flour. Whisk the dry ingredients together and stir in 5 oz of warm water and the other 2 T of olive oil.

Using a wooden spoon combine the ingredients, turn them out onto a clean surface, and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to rise for about 30 minutes at room temperature away from drafts.

Once you’ve allowed the dough to rise, knead it to remove any air bubbles and divide it into 3 equal pieces. Flatten each piece into a rectangle about the size of your hand and, using a rolling pin, roll it out into about a 13”x4” rectangle. Spread a third of the caramelized onions and sprinkle some goat cheese onto the dough.

Fold one side over to cover two thirds of the dough and then fold the other side over to form a cylinder. Put the dough into the generously floured bread baker, seam side down. Repeat two more times. Cover with the lid and allow to rise for 20 minutes. While the bread is rising preheat your oven to 475 degrees.

After the second rise, brush the loaves with a little water and score the dough in several places deep enough to reach the onions. Sprinkle the loaves with the chopped rosemary and the cheddar cheese.

Cover the pan with the lid and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and let the loaves brown for 2-4 more minutes. Remove from the oven and pour honey into the cuts in the loaves. Allow them to cool in the pan.

Slice and serve. We enjoyed a piece with our evening cocktail while it was still warm from the oven.

NOTE. These loaves could actually be stuffed with any variety of things. Different kinds of cheeses, olives (another suggestion in the recipe book), herbs, or crispy bacon bits. If you don’t have a baguette baker I think these would bake up nicely on a baking stone with a piece of foil tented over the loaves.

I made another batch of just plain baguettes today. I’ll combine some herbs and olive oil for dipping and we will enjoy these with our dinner tonight.