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Learning To Make Baguettes


I started making homemade pasta recently, which is another story altogether. But the fact is, because of making pasta, I have a ton of flour around my house now. So recently, a friend said: "Why don't you try making bread?"

No suggestion had ever seemed so preposterous. Isn't there all kinds of scientific formulae involved in making bread? Yeast starter to be curried along for days on end? Temperatures and measurements to be made down to the decimal point? Where had I formed the impression that bread making was something to be left only to master chefs, professional bakers, or men in lab coats in industrial bakeries? 

My favorite kind of bread is the baguette. So I looked up a couple baguette recipes. To my surprise, the process seemed pretty straightforward. I had to learn a few new terms like "proofing" and "lame" (I think it's pronounced "lah-MAY") but overall, I was able to make what I consider at damn good batch of baguettes for my first attempt. 

I will absolutely be doing this again, because I can already see where I went wrong in a couple areas...making the dough too wet and using oil in the bottom of the baking pan, making the crust a little too oil. Other than flour and yeast, all you really need is about three hours and some kitchen space. There is some attention required and some deadlines that have to be met. 

There are very few things more satisfying than approaching some project, like this, that you assumed was completely beyond you and doing it (relatively) right on your first try. Now the thing is to get better at it. The learning curve begins...