OK, first the disclaimer, I did not bake the breads above. I photographed them in Dinan, France, where I bought and ate them with my family. I also need to admit that it looks like I bit the perfect tip off the baguette on the right (I did, on my walk back from the boulangerie–bakery). I’m just back, so I have baguettes on my mind; hence the little video of me baking a baguette outside on the gas grill just in time for a crazy heat wave near you: Click on “Read More” below for details.
Please bear with me, I’m a little bit bread-maniacal after three weeks over there, so I said or showed some things on the video that I need to, uh, clarify:
Serious clarification of points in the video:
- Our upcoming book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day will be available only in hardcover, shipping in late October 2011 (click to pre-order on Amazon). Never mind the soft-cover production galley I showed in the video.
- Using a dough scraper: Especially in humid weather, wet dough like ours can stick to work surfaces, so a dough scraper (bench scraper) can be very nice for scraping dough and formed loaves off surfaces. It helps you resist the urge to work in more flour for a drier (and often simply dry) result.
- Grill settings: This is clear in the video but it bears repeating. Preheat for five to ten minutes with all burners on “high,” but bake over indirect heat (which means “not right over a burner”), with the burners set to “medium.” That works well on my grill, a 2-burner Genesis similar to this one on Amazon, but your grill may be different, so experiment and see what works. You need to balance the need to fully bake through to the center but not scorch the crust. On my grill, you need to turn the loaf once.
- Cooling time: I talk a little too fast about the fact that “this one doesn’t need two hours;” I’m talking about the cooling time. A big thick loaf like a boule (ball-shaped bread) needs to fully cool or it’s gummy in the center. Not so for skinny baguettes and rolls– the thinner it is, the quicker you can eat it. This baguette in the video cooled for 15 minutes before being devoured— and it wasn’t at all gummy or underdone.
Dirty lies that will be told about Jeff’s comments in this video:
- On indirect heat: I “appear” to say that if you don’t have a grill with a wide space between the burners, or one that can be turned off, this is “not going to work.” Well, not quite. All you need is to be able to grill over indirect heat– so long as there’s enough space on the grill to avoid being directly over a burner, you should be fine. If my burners had been closer together, I’d have simply switched one off.
- On getting professional-looking baguettes: Early in the video, I marvel at the thin, skinny baguette I’m forming, and I appear to say something like “I never get it to come out this nice!” Nonsense! I always achieve perfection, and so can you, especially with this letterfold technique in the video (see Zoe’s post on the letterfold for still shots). Though I will say that it’s easier for form a skinny baguette if you use some whole grain in the mix; here I actually used a mixture of doughs, white dough from the first book, whole grain from the second, and the Corn Broa (also from the first book). A weaker dough is easier to stretch thin (though it produces a bread with less “chew”).
Incidentally, I dare my boulanger in Dinan to bake a J-shaped baguette.