Almost No-Knead Baguettes

no knead baguetteAfter 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.

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Traditional Breadbaking at Le Cordon Bleu Paris: Day 2

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The second day at Le Cordon Bleu was, sadly, not nearly as much fun as the first. I think they did a bunch of interesting, hands-on stuff the first day to get us hooked (not that it makes much difference, we all paid months ago). The biggest issue was that rather than getting to mix up the dough by hand and do all the kneading and shaping ourselves, we spent the vast majority of our time watching our (admittedly talented) instructor do all of the work. And while I can understand having him mix up a big batch of dough rather than have us each do individual batches, there was no reason we couldn’t have shaped our own individual loaves before they went into the oven. Continue reading