From Paul Holywood
Makes 3 or 4 baguettes
If you’re a beginner baker – pay attention. “Active dry” yeast is yeast granules that are coated in a dehydrated shell. You need to rehydrate the yeast by dissolving the shell in a lukewarm liquid – normally water or milk. You need instant yeast for this recipe or after proofing, you’ll have a brick of lifeless dough. I’ve made this mistake embarrassing number of times.
Baguettes are one of those showstopper badass bakes. I was gifted a perforated Baguette tray for my Christmas. I looked upon it as Kind Arthur looked upon the sword in the stone. It was my time.
Shakey first attempt, nevertheless, we bake on.
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g salt
- 10g instant yeast
- 370ml cool water
- Olive oil for kneading
1. Lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container. (It’s important to use a square tub as it helps shape the dough.)
2. Put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook (don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast). Add three-quarters of the water and begin mixing on a slow speed. As the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water, then continue to mix on a medium speed for 5-7 minutes, until you have a glossy, elastic dough.
3. Tip the dough into the prepared tub. Cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled in size – about 1 hour.
4. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment or silicone paper.
5. Coat the work surface with a little olive oil, then carefully tip the dough onto it. Rather than knocking it back, handle it gently so you can keep as much air in the dough as possible. This helps to create the irregular, airy texture of a really good baguette. The dough will be wet to the touch but still lively.
6. Divide the dough into 4 or 5 pieces. Shape each piece into an oblong by flattening the dough out slightly and folding the sides into the middle. Then roll each up into a sausage – the top should be smooth with ha join running along the length of the base. Now, beginning in the middle, roll each sausage with your hands. Don’t force it out by pressing heavily. Concentrate on the backwards and forwards movement and gently use the weight of your arms to roll out dough to the length of your oven trays.
Place 2 or 3 baguettes on each baking tray. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about 1 hour, until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 220°C and put a roasting tray in the bottom to heat up.
When your baguettes are risen and light, dust them lightly with flour. Then slash each one 3 times along its length on the diagonal, using a razor blade or a very sharp knife. Fill the roasting tray with hot water to create steam and put the bread into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the baguettes are golden brown and have a slight sheen. Cool on a wire rack.