Saturday, October 19, 2013

French Bread (Pain Ordinaire)

I love eating baguettes. Usually I would grab one or two when I do my grocery shopping at Tesco, as it was really cheap, at RM1.99 each. Those baguettes would usually end up as toasted garlic bread for the kids breakfast during the school week. 

The last time that I've made baguette was years ago. There are quite a number of recipes for baguettes from my cookbooks collection, and I've chosen this simple one first, hopefully will be trying out the others in due time.

Original instructions from the recipe below gave the option of either using the stand mixer to knead the dough or knead manually by hand. I have however, used the bread machine instead.

Place the ingredients in the bread machine pan (refer to my notes below). Select Quick Dough cycle. Press Start. This cycle does the kneading for 6 minutes. At the end of the cycle, press Start again, and repeat one more time. In total, the bread machine has done 18 minutes of kneading. Adjust accordingly to the condition of the dough, check to see if it requires to be kneaded longer.  Remove the dough , shape into a round and place in a greased bowl, turning it over once so the oiled side is at the top. Cover with greased plastic wrap and leave to rise until tripled in bulk. Proceed with step 5 as per the recipe below.

The baguette pan, which I bought almost two years ago and have never used it before! (smiling sheepishly!). I sprayed the pan with some oil and left the dough to rise (the second rising) on the pan, covered with greased plastic wrap until doubled in size. Make some scores on the risen dough. Recipe calls for the baguettes to be glazed with some egg wash, I have glazed one baguette (the top one) and leave the other unglazed, just wanted to see the difference after baking. Place the whole pan with the dough into the oven for baking, easy, peasy!

For the baking of these baguettes, I have preheated the oven with a roasting tray at the most bottom rack, and as soon as the dough was placed in the oven, I added about 1 cup of ice cubes into the roasting tray, and immediately close the oven door. The steam will make a crispy crust during baking.

The baked baguettes.
Which do you think looks better, the glazed one (left baguette) looks very nice and crusty with a golden brown crust while the unglazed baguette looks more natural and rustic.

These baguettes have a crusty crispy crust and soft bread texture. Very nice!  Especially good when eaten warm.

We ate these baguettes with some meat stew! Delicious!

Note : my changes in blue for making 2 baguettes and please refer to my notes at the bottom for my adaptation of kneading the dough in the bread machine.

Pain Ordinaire (French Bread)
(adapted from "The Bread Bible", Beth Hensperger)
Makes 3 long baguettes or round loaves
2 cups warm water (105 to 115F) (330 ml)
1-1/2 tablespoons (1-1/2 packages) active dry yeast (1 tbsp)
1 tablespoon sugar (2/3 tablespoons)
3 cups bread flour (2 cups)
1 tablespoon salt (scant 2 teaspoons)
about 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use 2 cups bread flour)
cornmeal, for sprinkling
1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water, for glazing

  1. In a large bowl using a whisk or in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; pour in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water. Stir until combined. Let stand at room temperature until dissolved and foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add 2 cups of the bread flour and the salt. Beat hard until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup bread flour and most of the all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a shaggy dough that clears the sides of the bowl is formed.
  3. If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until soft, silky, and resilient, 5 to 8 minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. The dough should not be sticky. If kneading by machine, switch to the dough hook and knead for 1 to 3 minutes, or until dough is smooth and springy.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly greased deep bowl. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a cool area until tripled in bulk, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. If you have time, punch down the dough and allow it to rise again for about 1 hour. The dough may also rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Gently deflate the dough. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Grease or parchment-line a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Knead in more flour now if the dough seems sticky. Shape the portions into tight round balls for boules. Or flatten each portion into a rectangle for baguettes. Roll each rectangle up tightly with your thumbs to form a long sausage shape ; roll back and forth with your palms to adjust the length. Place the loaves 4 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  6. Quick method : Directly after forming the loaves, slash the tops diagonally no deeper than 1/4 inch and brush the entire surface with the glaze. Place in a cold oven on the middle or lower rack. Turn the oven thermostat to 400F and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crusty and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Eat immediately or transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.
  7. Standard method : Preheat a baking stone at 450F for at least 20 minutes, if using ; otherwise, preheat the oven to 400F. Cover the loaves loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy and doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes. Slash the tops of the loaves diagonally no more than 1/4 inch deep and brush the entire surface with the glaze. Spray a mist of water into the oven, or throw a few ice cubes onto a gas oven floor to crisp the crust, if desired. Turn the oven thermostat to 400F if using a stone and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crusty and the loaves sound hollow when tapped with your finger. Eat immediately or transfer the loaves to cooling rack.
Kitchen Flavours notes:
To knead the dough using the bread machine
Place water in the bread pan, add flour (all 4 cups). Place salt in one corner, sugar in another corner and make an indentation in the center of the flour. Add the instant yeast in the indentation. Select Basic Dough. Bread machine will knead for 6 minutes. Press Start again, and repeat one more time, in total, 18 minutes of kneading. Remove dough, shape into a round, place in an oiled deep bowl, turn over to coat, cover with greased cling wrap and leave to rise until tripled in bulk. Proceed with the recipe as step 5 above.

I'm linking this post with :

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  1. I love your baguette pan!! I want one, always I love to make baguette but I haven't this!
    Yours look wonderful!!

  2. Wholesome and lovely looking French Bread. Wonderfully prepared.

  3. Hi Joyce
    Your baguettes so nicely baked. Wish I could get my hands to try baking this one day too ~ wait till if I can find the baking pan first. Wow, there's a technique to bake this too, putting ice cubes. Interesting.

  4. The name "Pain Ordinare" doesn't do them justice, Joyce. They are beautiful: the glazed AND the "unglazed".
    Many thanks for linking up with "Bake Your Own Bread - Il Cestino del Pane"... the basked is getting fuller and fuller...yuppiii

  5. Hi Joyce , just two words describes them best , yummy and delicious , thanks for sharing :).

  6. Gorgeous loaves - I think you're very clever to make such fabulous looking bread!
    Mary x

  7. I think it is amazing how you can "change up" a recipe to your liking with different measurements and have it turn out so heavenly. You know me and yeast Joyce. The thought of decreasing or increasing ingredients when it comes to yeast is even scarier than my yeastaphoibia!

    Your French Bread Baguettes look so soft and fresh. Glazed or unglazed I surely would nibble on one right now!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Joyce. At least your cookbooks are really getting some use:)

  8. Joyce, it is interesting that ice cubes are added to the pan! I haven't started on breads yet, hope to do that before end of the year hah! hah!

  9. Hi Joyce, your french bread looks so professional! I thought it was from the bakery. Well done!

  10. hmmmmm!!!! i love love love baguette!!!! yours remind me (EXACTLY) of those the delicatessen serves! i made curry for dinner tonight.... would hv love to steal yours to go with the curry! (^_-)

  11. Never know that baguette has a special baking tray until I read your post! I like the one with egg wash, looks very crispy!

  12. Joyce, rustic or not, I love your baguettes!! Great tip on the ice cubes! I've never attempted or at least try to attempt baguettes but now you are tempting me to challenge myself to do that :) Psst, did I mention that your baguettes look just like those of that in the bakeries? Awesome!!

  13. Your homemade baguette looks very good. Just like from the bakeries. :)

  14. Joyce , sadly my baguette pan is an inch bigger than our oven tsk tsk ! I love both but I'm partial to the unglazed one :D

  15. Did you bread come out of the pan easily? Mine got dough in all those little holes. Now I use parchment on top of it.

  16. I was on a mission to find the perfect French bread recipe. Then summer came and it was too hot to bake! I will have to try this recipe because crispy crust is what I'm seeking. Thanks for sharing, Joyce!

  17. Gorgeous loaves! I remember my mom making pain ordinaire on the kitchen counter...she learned this method from a French chef and we were delighted to eat the warm bread fresh out of the oven. You've brought back terrific memories.

  18. Wow, i had never made baguette before, salute for you my friend!
    i love the way you eat that with meat stew, preety good pairing for my asian licking!

  19. Beautiful baguettes! Best to eat with casserole.

  20. Beautiful indeed, been a while since I last baked baguettes, only thing is these babies are best eaten on the day they were made. The stew looks good!

  21. Hi Joy,
    Your bread looks perfect, I would just love to tare a piece off of that bread right now, it looks so good! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. Hope you are having a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  22. The glazed version definitely looks more delicious ;p I have been wanting a baguette tray of my own too ;)

  23. They look wonderful, Joyce. I have a similar baking pan sitting the kitchen (I think).

  24. I love baguette but I dun have the pan, its expensive! now I feel like having one
    the best excuse is, it's worth to invest LOL

  25. the glazed one looks good but i know both taste just as awesome! putting ice cubes is something new to me..can try that one day !

  26. Congratulations!
    Your recipe is featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you are having a great weekend and enjoy your new Red Plate!
    Miz Helen

  27. Hi Joyce, thanks for sharing the recipe. I am from a Malaysian too, based in Selangor. Would like to check with you on where we could get this home scale of baguette pan from? Thanks in advance for sharing.