Making Crusty Artisan Baguettes


Shaping and Baking Baguettes from Crumb to Crust

      
by BC Farms & Food  -  Permalink
January 28, 2018

In this video, Mitchell Morse, professional baker and owner of The Fickle Fig Farm Market & Bistro on Vancouver Island, takes you through the process of making crusty, artisan baguettes.

“I’m always going for a crispy, crusty bread,” Mitchell says, “which is achieved through natural sugar in the bread . . . and by steam.” He likes to make bread that is “more European,” with a crisp, flavourful crust and a mellow, buttery-tasting interior.

Four freshly baked baguettes on a counter. Making Crusty Artisan Baguettes.

Baguettes in Two Hours

Making baguettes is “super easy and doesn’t doesn’t take as long as everyone thinks,” he says. Mitchell’s quick two-hour process covers the essentials: measuring and mixing the ingredients, kneading, proofing (letting the dough rise), shaping, and baking the baguettes.

The essence of bread, he explains, is flour, water and salt and leavening (yeast or sourdough starter).

Using instant yeast plus starter in his dough, Mitchell can make baguettes in about two hours. “The faster you make bread, the less flavour it has,” he says. “The yeast will do the job itself, but it won’t have as much flavour if I’m trying to make this bread quickly.” By adding sourdough starter, which already has a lot of tang, he’s able to add extra flavour to the baguettes.

Producing an Open Crumb

To help produce a moist crumb (good air pockets in the bread’s soft interior), Mitchell “proofs” the dough (covers it, places it in a draft-free area, and lets it rise) until it has almost doubled in size. The ambient warmth of the room determines how long the dough takes to rise; in midsummer, the process will be much faster than on a cold winter day.

An open crumb depends on multiple factors: the moistness of the dough, a successful proofing process, and care in handling while shaping the baguettes. Air bubbles that develop in the dough impart extra taste nuances in the crumb. These appear as irregular pockets inside the finished loaves.

Achieving a Crispy Crust

To achieve a crispy crust, Mitchell uses water to create a burst of steam in the oven during the first five minutes of baking. Creating a moist environment during these first few minutes keeps the outside of the loaves supple, so that the baguettes can rise fully before the heat in the oven kills off the yeast. The result is a well-risen baguette, with a crispy flavourful golden-brown crust and a soft, chewy interior.

Bring on the butter and jam!

 
More about baking:

Pie Crust 101: How to Make PastryPie Crust 101: How to Make Pastry

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