After my Cordon Bleu bread-baking course, you’d think I’d be a baguette snob– insisting on fresh yeast, hand-kneading, and traditional techniques– but my inherent laziness always wins the day when it comes to things like this. So when I decided to host a dinner party where baguettes were on the menu I split the difference between store-bought and traditionally made, trying out a recipe from King Arthur Flour that’s practically no-knead and does most of its rising in the refrigerator.
The results? Decent, but not fabulous. It might have been my own fault, since I have the sneaking suspicion I might have let the loaves rise too much before baking, and I didn’t have a spray bottle to spritz the crusts with water before putting them in the oven. But I did put a pan of boiling water on the bottom rack to create steam, so that should’ve helped. The bread itself was well-flavored and the texture was decent inside, but the crust was overly thick– probably the spritzing issue– and the loaf was pretty flat, not rounded and high the way I’d have wanted it to be. Still, it was tasty bread for a lot less effort than the hand-kneaded ones I made at Le Cordon Bleu, so I’m counting it in the win column.
Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it yourself!
Almost No-Knead Baguettes (from King Arthur Flour)
(recipe makes 4 loaves)
24 oz lukewarm water (about 105 degrees F)
34 oz all purpose flour
1 tbs. table salt or 1 1/2 tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. instant yeast
1. Lightly grease a large (6-quart) bowl or bucket.
2, Pour the warm water into the bowl, then add the dry ingredients and stir to combine into a soft dough.
3. Knead gently for 3-4 minutes by hand. It will be extremely wet and sticky– don’t worry, this is normal.
4. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
5. Refrigerate the dough overnight, or for up to 7 days.
6. To bake, scoop out about 14 oz of dough (a quarter of the batch) and shape into a slightly flattened oval.
7. Fold in half lengthwise and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten slightly (to push out air holes), then fold lengthwise and seal again. This will form the baguette shape.
8. Gently roll the dough, lengthening into a 15″ baguette.
9. Place the dough, seam-side down, onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, or into a baguette pan.
10. Cover and let rise until very puffy– about 1 1/2 hours.
11. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
12. Slash the baguette with a sharp knife three or four times on the diagonal.
13. Spritz the baguette heavily with warm water and bake for 25-30 minutes, until deep golden brown.
14. Let cool on a rack.