It's early. I hear my husband stirring getting ready for work and I look at my iPhone/alarm clock/everything else and see that it is 5:45 am. However unappealing it is to climb out of my warm bed, there really is no better time to get fresh bread started.
I shuffle downstairs to a very cold kitchen and decide to warm up a cup of yesterday's coffee b/c I just can't wait for a new pot to brew. Today I have decided to play with one of Jim Lahey's "no-knead" bread recipes from his Sullivan Street Bakery cookbook. Last summer my family had the incredible fortune to live in Paris for 3 months while my husband worked on a European-based project for his company. We quickly became addicted to vrai french baguettes which was a hard habit to break once we landed back home in October. After trolling my entire area sampling all the "baguettes" nearby, I realized no one is doing it right around here. Some are too sourdough in flavor, some have too much crust, all of them have dense interiors with not enough holes, and most others are just plain undercooked or bland. While we have some artisan bakers up here, IMO they are not doing a good enough job of pumping out authentic french baguette. Maybe that's not their goal. The best I can find close to home are the baguettes at Whole Foods but the best I have found since returning states-side are those at Isabelle et Vincent in Fairfield, CT. They are a true french boulangerie/patisserie and bake their flavorful baguette all day long so nearly anytime you walk in you can ask for a warm stick of bread right from the oven. Trips to Isabelle et Vincent have now become a regular occurance when we visit our dear friends in Fairfield.
A few weeks ago, my sister-in-law emailed me an article, found here, discussing tweeking Jim Lahey's recipe to get a bread that has a thinner crust and more holes. Although I am pleased with the flavor of the Sullivan Street Bakery recipes, I'd love to see if I could make them a bit more eh, how do we say, uh, French!
So while the sky warms its horizon with shades of pink and begins to light up my snow covered back yard, I get to work on combining the 400g of bread flour, 8g of table salt, 1g yeast, and 300g of water. Today though I add in an extra splash of water to make the dough a bit more moist.
I am going to let this thing rise for a full 24 hours this time and during that time I am going to fold the edges in on the bread as the article suggests. Tomorrow when I get around to baking it off, I will try to get some steam action going in my very hot oven. Since I have two ovens, I thought it would be a good experiment to do one with steam i.e. a pan of water at the bottom of the oven, and one dry. Unfortunately, I only have one baguette form pan. Maybe I'll bake them off separately since they don't take too long.