baking

DIY Baguettes with the Baguette Baking Box

by Anne Maxfield on June 3, 2019

A Bigger BaguetteBeing obsessed by bread is something a lot of people fall into. Being obsessed by baguettes makes people do crazy things.

Near us there’s an object of that obsession–a wood-burning brick oven brought over brick-by-brick (along with two French masons) and reconstructed in Hudson.

Recently my former business partner put me in touch with another infatuated baker, this time building his version of a better mouse trap—The Baguette Baking Box.

The Baguette Box is an elegant, easy solution to ensuring a steady stream of great bread is always available. You mix up the dough, let it rise, shape it and bake it in the box. Et voilà, perfect baguettes.

Baguette Baking BoxDean Anderson, the entrepreneur behind the box, invited me to his home to demonstrate the box in action. He wants people to be able to make baguettes without a lot of effort and he’s worked for the past 18 months on perfecting his box and the easy no-knead recipe.

He had some dough that he had started the night before and as we were chatting, he formed it into a couple of loaves and baked them. It wasn’t long before we had fresh, hot, delicious bread.

Dean sent me home with a prototype box so we could see how it worked in the hands of two non-bakers. Frank mixed up the first batch of dough and we left it to rise overnight. When we went to get the box and pre-heat it, we noticed that it was missing the lid. Dean assured us that the dough would be fine in the refrigerator for a few days and sent us the missing lid.

Baguette Before BakingSomehow it ended up being about 2 weeks before we finally got around to baking our first loaves. Despite the dough sitting around for a couple of weeks, and Frank mistakenly adding a tablespoon of salt instead of a teaspoon (which he then endeavored to remove from the flour), we had very edible baguettes.

I mixed up another batch of dough and baked a second batch the next day. These were really good! Great crust, not too dense inside (the issue with the first ones) and definitely not as salty. It was super easy to do, just requires a little advanced planning (it’s about 10 hours from start to finish).

Baguette After BakingMy third batch was the best (so far). Dean had emailed me a recipe for a slightly bigger loaf and I got to work. It’s so easy, you can just break into bread making at the drop of a hat (or in this case email). I liked the bigger loaves and the baguettes had great crust and perfect interiors (and I ate half of one in about 2 minutes).

There is a website coming, but if you can’t wait to get your hands on one of the Baguette Boxes, contact Dean at Breadbakingbox@gmail.com. Don’t forget to tell him you saw it here first!

And, not that we’re that obsessed, but the minute Frank got his hands on the box, his reaction was “now we can move to Peillon.” There was a gorgeous house there that we drooled over, but according to the description the nearest bakery was 15km away–almost inconceivable in France. No matter where we end up, the Baguette Baking Box is definitely coming with us!

 

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Amazing 4-Hour Baguettes!

by Anne Maxfield on February 16, 2015

Accidental Locavore My BaguettesIf you’re looking for something to do this President’s Day, here’s a 4-hour project with a delicious result! Sometimes the Accidental Locavore comes across a recipe that just looks unbelievable enough (this can’t work, or taste good) to make me want to try it. Such was the case with the 4-hour baguette recipe I found on the Food52 website. Since I’m not a baker, especially of bread, this was even more laughable, but one Sunday I threw down the flour and yeast and went to work. Makes 3 small baguettes:

  • 1 ½ cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115°
  • 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 ¼ cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)
  • Vegetable oil, for greasing bowl
  • ½ cup ice cubes

 

Accidental Locavore Bread for RisingWhisk together water, yeast and sugar in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Remove bowl with dough from oven and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.

Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.

Accidental Locavore Baguettes BeforeUncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.

My verdict: Amazing! While Maison Kayser has nothing to worry about (yet), these were everything you’d want a baguette to be—good flavor and a great crust. Much better than anything we can get locally. The texture of the bread itself needs a little work, and my slashes were barely noticeable (time to get a lame, my single-edged razor blade wasn’t cutting it – literally), but I’m really nit-picking now. Frank paid them the ultimate compliment, saying “we’ve had worse baguettes in France.” I’m not sure how you would do this without the cast iron pan, ice and pizza stone combo – it sounds weird, but it works wonderfully! I added the sugar to the recipe, it makes the yeast work better, but it’s not essential.

 

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