12-12-10 was a big day for me. 
it was the day i mastered the baguette. 
i have spent years trying. i've rolled hundreds of failures. i burned out the heating element in our oven. there were many times when i thought about bagging it. after all, i have big successes with the batard and the boule.
making a baguette is at once simple–flour, yeast, water, salt. and yet baffling–the dough is sticky and wet, more like a thick batter, so it's confounding to roll. and the shape is long and skinny . . . seemingly impossible to get into a blazing-steaming-hot oven. 
          the real deal is only 5-6 centimeters in diameter (a little less than 2.5") and weighs only 250 grams (just under 9 oz.). the crumb is light, airy and full of holes. the crust is crackling-crisp and sends little shards flying when you cut into it with a bread knife. to make baguettes i use a metric scale and a tape measure, a stone, tea towels, a mini-peel, wooden tongs . . . and patience.
i was alone in our kitchen when i got those first two good baguettes into the oven. i saw them spring through the dirty glass window of the oven door, and like so many baking mornings before, my husband and dogs were asleep. it was dark outside and the snow falling looked blue. my kitchen was orderly just like it ordinarily is. after the loaves cooled i cut into one and tasted a center slice to confirm i had done it. there was a quiet gratification in that solitary moment . . . an unexpected flash in a routine day that was significant, if just to me. i've made fresh loaves both mornings since then, and each time i've been happy to pull that same satisfaction from the oven. and i am looking forward to stretches of days out in front of me when i will again find happiness in the craft of something as basic as making bread.


Michelle said...

Impressive -- congrats!

Mikulak said...

Made with a no-knead dough? I use a baguette pan, on a baking stone, and steam the oven by putting in a pan to get hot with the oven, then adding water to the pan after I put in the formed baguettes.

Patty Marguet said...

hi ron . . . i use the stretch and fold method and i put the baguettes directly on the stone . . . i used to use a baguette pan, but didn't like the little holes it left on the bottom of the loaves. and, yes, i steam the oven. happy baking!