Artisan Baguettes ……………..in Five Minutes!?!

I would’t tell you this if it wasn’t true………… honestly, the hands-on prep time for whipping up these amazing baguettes is five minutes! I started making this five minute artisan bread, (I know these four words seem quite contradictory) several years ago, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t believe it either…..

It all started with the amazing cookbook, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes, and I’ve been baking up a storm of unbelievable breads in a plethora of shapes, flavors and varieties ever since ………… all with five minutes prep time and another five to ten minutes of time spent in shaping the loaves. The rest of the magic is done by the simple combination of yeast, flour, salt and water (that’s it for these baguettes) a two hour rise, a long nap in the refrigerator and a few  interesting techniques.

They say that, “the proof is in the pudding” ……………..I told my three sisters (all wonderful cooks!) about this bread a few years ago and they looked at me like I had lost my marbles……………… until…………………. they saw the proof emerging from the oven…………… a golden crackly crust with a delicious soft, chewy crumb interior. They were quite amazed and one of my sisters, after returning home, purchased a twenty-five pound bag of flour and proceeded to make loaf after loaf of this wonderful bread much to the delight of her family and friends!

I wanted some nice baguettes for my  Grilled Banh Mi Sandwiches last week. I stopped at the store and picked up two rather small baguettes and almost cried when I went through the check out……… $3.99!………… and honestly, they weren’t anything special. This week I decided to use the five minute method and make my own……….guess what? The raw ingredients for four large baguettes cost less than $1.25! Adding in the cost of electricity to bake the loaves, the four loaves cost less than $2.00 to make myself…………. I love it!

When this bread emerges from the oven, try to have some self control and wait a bit for it to cool down before you dive into it!………………… Oh, oh, I guess this is what my mom always called “the pot calling the kettle black” or “looking at the speck in someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own!” You see, this (see below) is what we did as soon as I pulled this yummy bread out, slathering it with, not only butter, but also a bit of Carrot Cake Jam and Fruits of the Forest Jam…………………shameful!

Artisan Baguettes ……….. in Five Minutes!

3 cups hot tap water
8 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon instant or quick yeast

1. Use some type of large (6-quart) bowl or bucket, for mixing and storing dough in the fridge.

2. Place the water directly into the bowl or other large container.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the water, and stir to combine. Mix until there are no dry spots; the texture of the dough should be fairly soft and shaggy looking. You can do this with a large, sturdy wooden spoon or with your stand mixer. I do it by hand with one of these wonderful whisks (thanks Annie!) but a strong wooden spoon would work just great also.

4. Knead the dough gently for a few minutes, by hand; it’ll be very sticky. I do this with my large whisk or wooden spoon –  right in the bowl – just keep turning it over and over for a minute or so. You can also use the dough hook of your stand mixer and knead for 1 to 2 minutes. Cover the container with the lid (if it has one) or with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest at room temperature for 2 hours.

5. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 7 days!

6. To bake baguettes; scoop as many pieces of dough as you want – I used 6 ounce pieces for each baguette which made a nice sandwich size roll. If you want a large, traditional baguette scoop up a scant 1 pound of piece of dough (about ¼ of the batch). Place on a floured work surface and turn over to coat both sides of the dough with flour then shape into a rough, slightly flattened oval.

7. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten slightly, and fold lengthwise and seal again.

8. With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into an approximately 6″ log for individual baguettes, a 15″ log for traditional baguettes.

9. Place the log(s) seam-side down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet that has been sprinkled lightly with cornmeal.

10. Cover and allow the baguette to rise till it’s very puffy, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 450°F.

11.When the bread is puffy and doubled in size, slash the baguette several times on the diagonal with a very sharp knife. (I do two slashes for small individual size baguettes and three or four for large baguettes).

12. Spritz the baguette generously with warm water, (this will make the crust super crisp and crackly) and bake until a very deep golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes and the King Arthur website (which has some great instructional pictures!)


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