Tuesday, 30 March 2010


In my ongoing quest to bake the perfect loaf of bread I was given a fantastic cookbook by my brother called The American Boulangerie. It documents the meteoric rise of Pascal Rigo, a French emigre' who rose to become one of the premier bakers in San Fransisco. The book is full of wonderful stories and contains many easy to follow authentic French style bread and patisserie recipes.

I have stepped up the ante of late, buying ever better organic flour and seeking out fresh yeast. One recipe that caught my eye is a simple yet delicious bread recipe for Couronnes (crown shaped bread), which I have adapted in to a baguette style. I suggest if you do shape as a baguette cut the traditional diagonal slices across the top of the bread just before baking. In the photos above I did not do this, but in subsequent batches it makes it look more impressive.

1 1/4 cups water at room temperature
2 tbsp (1 ounce) compressed fresh yeast
3 cups (16 ounces) organic white flour
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup (2 ounces) mixed organic seeds

1. In a large bowl whisk together the water and the yeast. Let rest until the yeast is creamy, around 5 minutes. Add flour, salt and seeds to yeast all at once and mix until all combined.
Turn is out on to a lightly floured work surface and kneed by hand until smooth (6-8 min) Cover with clean tea towel and let the dough rise, on the lightly floured work surface, until doubled in size. (1 1/2 hours)
2. Divide the dough in to 5 pieces and roll each piece so it tapers down at the end (see picture)

Place a sheet of baking paper on to a tray and arrange in a row, sprinkle some more seeds on top and a light dusting of excess flour. Cover with tea towel and let the baguettes rise until doubled in size. (about 35 minutes). At this stage you can cut three diagonal slashes across the dough.

3. Place a roasting pan directly on the bottom of the oven, preheat the over to 180 degrees.
Place the tray of baguettes in to the oven. Quickly but carefully pour one cup water in to the hot roasting pan below them and close the door as quickly as you can to trap the steam. Bake until bread is golden brown, around 20-25 minutes. They are better if slightly under baked.
Transfer to a wire tray to let them cool slightly, serve warm.

These are absolutely wonderful fresh and warm with butter, the seeds make them quite nutty. For this batch I served them with homemade Butternut Pumpkin soup. Delicious!


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