I don’t normally bake bread since I tend to steer clear of wheat but this was an occasion worthy of breaking the “rules”. For one, I’ve never really made homemade artisan baguettes or any breads for that matter. Two, I needed something besides just veggies to dip into my newest creation, squash and cheddar cheese fondue. Three, I discovered an awesome ancient wheat that makes delicious flour, has more nutrients, never hybridized and has less gluten than modern wheat varieties. Winner, winner artisan baguettes for dinner!
The process is simple enough and so are the ingredients. Four ingredients to be exact. And less than four hours total and you can have some bready delicious lovin’ fresh from the oven! If you’re intimidated by making your own bread, don’t be. It’s actually very easy. Your total time spent doing something with the bread is quite minimal. The rest is time it takes for it to rise and bake.
We start with four basic ingredients which are common among most every bread you’ll make. Flour, water, yeast and salt. Add honey if you want but it’s optional. The flour I used is from einkorn wheat rather than soft wheat or durum which is what most refined flours are made from. Here’s an excellent article highlighting the awesomeness of ancient einkorn flour. So to start, mix the einkorn flour, salt, and yeast in a bowl. You’ll notice this is different than a lot of recipes that have you “proof” the yeast with warm water. This is because I decided to do this a little quicker (YAY!) and use instant yeast (also known as bread machine yeast). What this does is eliminates two steps: the proofing of the yeast and the first rise. You get to skip right to the good stuff and this eliminates about 1 hour or so of total time from bowl to baked bread.
Next, heat your water to between 120-130 degrees. If you’re using honey, add it to the water so it dissolves evenly. Then pour the water into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until it’s smooth. Let the dough sit in the bowl undisturbed for 10 minutes. Then sprinkle some flour onto a smooth surface, like your countertop, and prepare to get your hands dirty. Flour your hands and knead the dough ball for about 10 minutes until it becomes smooth, resilient, and no longer sticky. You should be able to press your finger into it and it should bounce back. Keep flouring your hands and kneading surface just enough to keep the dough from sticking.
Divide the dough into three equal portions and roll each piece with your hands into a long snake roughly 12 inches long and 1 inch or so thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle flour onto it (use a small metal strainer or tea ball to gently sift it over the parchment). Then place the strips of baguette onto your sheet and make 5-6 diagonal slits approximately 1/2″ deep with a very sharp knife. Pull up the parchment in between each baguette. Next roll up two small kitchen towels and place on both sides of the pan. This is to keep the baguettes shape while they rise. Dust the tops of the baguette with flour and let them rise for 1 and a half hours until roughly doubled in size.
Here’s where the process really differs from baking regular old sandwich bread. Place an empty ovenproof, non-glass pan or bowl into your oven on the lowest rack. A cast iron pan works great for this! Keep a second rack in the middle of the oven for the baguettes. Then pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees. Once pre-heated, grab some ice and set it next to the oven. Remove towels from the sheet of baguettes and place baguettes into the oven. Immediately dump the ice into the empty bowl that’s in the oven and close the oven door. This will create a cascade of steam that will make a nice crispy crust on the baguette. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake for 15 minutes. When baked, cool on wire cooling rack. And there you have it, awesome artisan baguettes!
- 4 cups einkorn wheat flour (or use 3½ cups regular flour)
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast (also known as bread machine yeast)
- 1 cup water
- 1½ teaspoons Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- Mix flour, yeast and salt in medium bowl.
- Heat water to 120-130 degrees.
- Stir honey (if using) into water and dissolve.
- Pour water into dry ingredients and stir with fork until smooth.
- Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Lightly flour a smooth surface and your hands.
- Knead dough by pressing palms into dough ball and rotating and flipping (repeat) for 10 minutes until dough is no longer sticky. It should be smooth and resilient.
- Divide dough into three equal portions.
- Roll out each section of dough with your hands into a long snake approximately 12"long by 1" wide.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust the parchment with flour.
- Place baguettes onto the parchment and pull up the parchment in between each to keep them from sticking together.
- Roll up two kitchen towels and place them on either side of the baguettes to help keep their shape.
- With a very sharp knife, make 5-6 diagonal cuts in the top of the baguettes.
- Lightly dust tops of baguettes with flour.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 1½ hours or until approximately doubled in size.
- Place an empty ovenproof, non-glass pan or bowl into your oven on the lowest rack. Keep a second rack in the middle of the oven for the baguettes.
- Then pre-heat your oven to 500 degrees.
- Grab some ice and set it next to the oven.
- Remove towels from the sheet of baguettes and place baguettes into the oven.
- Immediately dump the ice into the empty bowl that's in the oven and close the oven door.
- Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and bake for 15 minutes.
- Let cool on wire cooling rack and enjoy!