BAGEL BAGUETTES

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Stephen's Bagel Baguettes

First added: 2012-12-18; Last edited: 2013-01-29


Stephen's Bagel Baguettes (2012-10-25).

Bagel Baguette sandwich: Turkey & cranberry sauce.

Author: Stephen Chin-Bow (YC).

Background:

If you, your friends, or your family enjoy the taste and aroma of freshly baked bread in the morning this recipe will inspire you to get out of bed.  This bread is best eaten within one day of being baked.  The dough does not contain any oil (see "Other Options" at the end of the recipe), so the bread dries out quickly.  If this happens just make bread crumbs, croutons, or French Toast!

These breads are called bagel baguettes because their shape and length are similar to baguettes, while their chewiness is similar to New York City bagels.  They were baked during several YaleCooks potluck dinners (2012-11-21 and 2012-10-25) held in New Haven.  The popularity of the bread resulted in the first YaleCooks bread baking workshop (2012-11-28).

Many thanks to everyone who attended the workshop and especially to those who contributed comments and useful feedback.

This recipe builds on my first two "bread" recipes: 1) "pizza" (2012-06-11) and 2) Oktoberfest "pretzel bagels" (2012-10-13).  Please take the time to read these earlier recipes, because some tips may be described there which are not mentioned below.  As mentioned in the long pizza recipe, many of the recommended "tips" (what to do and what to avoid doing) will become second nature after you bake bread a few times.

Essential Supplies & Ingredients: (three 2 inch X ?? inch baguettes; 5 cm X ?? cm)

• 1 large pot (or another container) 6 qts or larger with a cover (needed for the rising step)
• 1 bread pan (with three "positions") or a baking sheet

• 1/2 - 1 small package (??? oz package) of "active dry yeast, (or dough from a previous batch of bread; discussed below)

• 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature or slightly warmer (1 1/2 cups = 726 grams)
• 2 teaspoons sugar (2 teaspoons = 10 ml)
• 2 teaspoons salt (2 teaspoons = 10 ml)

• at most 4 1/2 cups bread flour (1 1/2 cups = ??? grams)

Instructions:

Flour, Oven Temperature and Water Quality: (??? minutes)

1) This recipe was developed and tested using two types of high-gluten wheat flours: Pillsbury Bread Flour and Bob's Red Mill "Unbleached White Flour" (other types of high protein wheat flours should provide similar results)

2) The bread prepared using this recipe has the desired characteristic when baked in a new modern ________ oven (from 20??) with a digital control or in an old "Magic Chef" oven, also with a digital control.  However, neither oven has been tested, verified, nor compared using a reliable thermometer.  This recipe has not been tested using a convection oven, because the convection oven we use does not reach the desired temperature.  For most recipes when a convection oven is used the temperature can be lowered slightly, so if your convection oven reaches 400°F let us know the results (good or bad)!

3) The quality of your water may affect your results.  This recipe has been tested using unfiltered New York City tap water, "filtered" New Haven tap water, and "Poland Spring" brand bottled water.  The accuracy of your oven temperature is more likely to affect your results, but before you give up on this recipe try using a different type of water.  Also, if you contact YaleCooks and describe your problems we will be happy to share ideas to help improve your bread.

The Yeast Source: (??? minutes)

The first time you attempt this recipe I recommend using the above list of ingredients (1 1/2 C water + 4 1/2 C flour, etc.).  Use a package of commercial active dry yeast as your source of leavening action.  Once you are happy with the results and plan to become a "regular" (at least one a month) bread baker there is a very frugal way to make this bread.  You only have to buy a "three-pack" of active dry yeast once!

First, follow the basic recipe, but increase the amount of ingredients slightly to 2 cups water, (at most) 6 cups flour, 3 teaspoon sugar, 3 teaspoon salt (in other words, increase all the ingredients by "one-third").  If the above recipe (using at most 4 1/2 C flour) makes enough dough for three loaves of bread then the recipe (using at most) 6 cups flour makes enough dough for four loaves.  Are you still with me?

Here is the "frugal" trick.  After the dough has risen and has been divided into four even pieces transfer one piece of dough to a clean plastic container with a tight lid (step 11; see below).  Continue baking the other three pieces (as described below).  The one piece of dough ("made" from 1/2 cup water and 1 1/2 cups flour, etc.) you saved becomes the "starter" for the next batch of bread.  Next time simply use 1 1/2 C water, (at most) 4 1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoon sugar, 2 teaspoon salt, plus "starter dough" saved from previous batch of bread.

This approach is slightly different than the traditional "levain-sponge" method used by many famous European bread bakeries, but it is simple, reliable, and works well (especially if you have a busy schedule and are patient).

Preparing the Dough: Part One (Mixing Ingredients) (??? minutes)

Finally, it took us a while to get here, but we hope your baking results make the time you spend reading this long recipe worth the investment.

To be clear, the following steps (which use at most 4 1/2 cups flour) assume you are either not planning to save any dough (to act as a starter) or you already have some starter dough, andt hat you want to bake three loaves of bagel baguettes.

1) Some bread recipes recommend preheating the water, but since this recipe does not require the use of a thermometer it is safest to use room temperature water.  The quickest way to be discouraged from baking bread is to kill the yeast using water which is too hot.  This recipe recommends a long first rise, so there is no need to "activate" the yeast.

Dissolve the sugar and salt (roughly 1/2 teaspoon each for every cup of flour) in the water.  Stir until both are dissolved.  The sugar will dissolve faster than the salt, but the salt should dissolve.  If a few salt crystals remain, do not worry.

If you do not have any starter dough add the dry active yeast to the liquid.  Mix until dissolved.

2) Measure out 4 cups of flour (not the full 4 1/2 cups), preferably in the large pot.

3) Add all the liquid to the flour.  Using a round handle of a wooden spoon (or a large soup spoon), try to combine the dry flour and liquid (stir slowly at first, but then slightly faster).  Continue stirring until you do not see any large "patches" of dry flour remaining.  For now it is okay if you see flour powder on the outside of clumps of dough.  Cover the pot with a cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 - 30 minutes.  During this time the water and flour will begin to combine and the dough will start to "autolyze" and soften.

4) If you are using a "starter" (bread dough saved from a previous batch, equal to 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups flour, saved from a previous batch of bread; described above) divide the starter into about 8 or 10 pieces (not a magical number).  Notice the difference in appearance, texture, elasticity, and hydration between the old starter and the new dough.

5) Using your hands slowly knead-massage (flatten-stretch and fold) the dough made from 4 cups of flour.  If you are using a "starter" gradually add the pieces of starter, squeezing and folding the dough a few times after each addition.  Continue kneading (at most 5 minutes) until the dough has a uniform appearance.  Remember, this recipe is "minimal knead", not no-knead.

Preparing the Dough: Part Two (Adding the Correct Amount of Flour) (??? minutes)

Deciding how much more flour to add to the dough is the hardest part of learning to bake bread and the part of a workshop which is the most valuable.  Taking photos is inconvenient when kneading dough, but they will improve this recipe.

It is better to err on the side of a dough which is too moist than one which is too dry.  A dough which is too most will still rise slightly when first placed in the oven, but the loaves will be flatter.  A dough which is too dry will be dense (and not have the same "heat induced" rise when when first placed in the oven).

Warnig: It is a lot easier to add flour to a dough which is too wet than to add water to a dough which is too dry.  If you believe your dough is too dry allow it to sit in a plastic bag or covered pot for 20 minutes to see if "autolysis" helps with the moisture balance.

6) At this point the ball of dough should be very moist.  The best way to add flour to a wet dough is to sprinkle flour so the outside of the ball of dough becomes covered with powder.  Knead some more.

When deciding if more flour is needed it is helpful to expose the inner-most part of the dough by using the follow kneading method.  Hold the ball of dough in both hands and "fold" the dough as if you were grabbing a car's steering wheel.  Flex your wrists and rotate your finger tips towards yourself.

7) Continue to knead the dough alternating between the "stretch and fold" (from step 5) and the "steering wheel grabbing" (from step 6) kneading methods.

When the correct amount of flour has been added your hands should not be sticky from dough.  There may be some dough clinging to your palms and fingers, but the dough should not be sticky.  Remember, it is better to err on the side of a moist bread dough.

8) Cover the pot and allow the dough to rest until (roughly) doubled in volune.  Depending on the warmth of your kitchen this may take several hours, all day, or overnight.  A slow rise results in improved bread flavor.

If your kitchen is cold use the "pot of hot water" trick described in the "pretzel bagel" recipe.  After several hours, if you remove the cover to the pot if you see condensation of water on the lid that is a good sign.  If no water condenses on the inside of the lid then the dough is probably too dry (and will have trouble expanding).

Preparing the Dough: Part Three (Final Rise and Baking) (??? minutes)


9) Sprinkle a small amount of flour on a clean dry surface (a large cutting board is handy because you will cut the dough next).

10) Carefully transfer the dough to the cutting board as follows.

Tilt the pot on its side.  While you rotate the pot, scrape (using your fingers or a spoon) along the edges and bottom of the pot, gradualy releasing the dough.  As the dough pulls away from the pot it should have a very spongy appearance and texture.

Under its "own weight" the dough may lose a large amount of its volume.  This is okay.  The goal is to avoid over-handling the dough.

11) Now work quickly, but gently.  Cut the dough (made from at most 4 1/2 cups flour) into three even parts.  [ If the dough was made with a total of (at most) 6 cups flour and you are planning to save some of the dough to eventually use as a "starter" divide the dough into four parts and transfer one piece to a clean plastic container with a lid. ]

12) Gently shape the three pieces of dough into loaves 10 - 12 inches long.  Place loaves back on the floured cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap (to prevent the surface of the dough from drying out; see above image for a bad example).

Allow the dough to rest and rise for 30 minutes.

13) Preheat the oven to 425°F.  If you oven does not have a digital display showing the current temperature "preheat" for 15 minutes.

14) If your bread pan or baking sheet is not specially treated (to prevent sticking) spread a small amount of oil (such as olive oil) on the surface.

Gently stretch each piece of dough to its final desired length (??? inches or ??? cm) and transfer the dough to the bread pan or baking sheet.

Place in the middle rack of the preheated oven.

After 10 minutes remove the bread pan from the oven, rotate each loaf (so the tops are not on the bottom), rotate the pan (so the loaf which was closest to the back of the oven is now near the oven door), and return the bread to the oven.

Another option is to remove the bread from the bread pan-baking sheet after 5 more minutes and to allow the bread to bake just on the middle oven rack for the last 5 minutes.

When the bread has baked for a total of 20 minutes it should be done.

When completely cool, the bread can be stored for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in a plastic bag.

Other Options:

Adding butter to this recipe (in place of some water) will make the bread resemble "french peasant bread" (and also increase the "shelf life" of the bread).  If you add oil or fat to your bread dough it probably should not be saved as starter (but I have not confirmed this).

Assessment and Possible Improvements:

...

Annotated Internet Links:

1)

Recommended Cookbooks:

1)

 


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