This is my third week attempting the GBBS technical challenge. Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.
I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.
And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.
This week’s challenge was Paul Hollywood’s Baguette recipe. I’ve made a lot of bread with varying degrees of success. I’ve had loaves explode and others fall in the middle. I’ve made plain white bread, rye, spelt, whole-wheat honey, sweet bread, but never attempted a baguette(s). For some reason baguettes scared me, I guess because they’re so quintessentially French and the French really know how to bake.
I’m not going to let any of that bother me today. I’ve 2 ½ hours to make 4 crusty baguettes. Time starts now, and there’s Sue’s voice in my ear….BAAAAAKE.
Making the dough with my kitchen aide was a dream. It couldn’t have been easier. With 2:11hours to go the dough is in the plastic container, in the oven with the light on and will stay there until it doubles. Now the recipe I had doesn’t mention anything about kneading by hand. It pretty much lets it all happen in the mixing bowl. So, that’s an advantage for me.
I must have misplaced my linen couche so I improvised with a piece of canvas I had (no idea why) and a few binder clips (which I have to say I thought was pretty gosh darn clever of me).
With 1:21hours to go, I had divided my dough, rolled and pinched the seams, floured and turned them into my makeshift couche. I let them double again.
So far, this seems like the easiest challenge. These baguettes don’t seem to be THAT difficult at all. I’m actually pretty pleased with myself and a little bit excited. Until the clock starts ticking down and I can’t tell if my loaves are rising (I left them at room temp covered). Now I’m a bit antsy and worried. I’ve written this before, it’s slightly ridiculous on my part - I’M NOT BEING JUDGED. With 36:37 on the clock, I stick my overly floured baguettes in the oven (with a pan of water – which I always do anyway – so Paul Hollywood, you wouldn’t have tricked me with that omission!). Four baguettes out with 12:56 left. I did it.
Verdict – I had 4 baguettes relatively the same size with the correct cuts on top. They were under proved, with a seam that you could see on the bottom. The structure of my baguette was decent with an “ish” open texture, not great, but good. They were definitely crispy, since they were a touch over baked (I thought), so the color was good a little more than golden.
To put it in perspective - My baguettes were not as good as Ian (star baker again). A lot better than Paul (10), Nadia (9), Sandy (7), Dorret (6), and Ugne (5). Mine were most like Flora (2), Tamal (3), Alvin (4) and Matt (8). Basically, under proved, crispy, decent texture, slightly dark, good flavor. I over did it on the flour during baking, but all in all – I thought I’d be mid-div again some where around 5th-6th.
Would I make it again? Yes. This recipe is a keeper. Straight forward, delicious, and the more you make them the easier they’ll be. Plus you get 4 wonderful homemade loaves of bread in one go or freeze a few for a later date. No longer am I afraid of making baguettes – thank you British Baking Show, Paul and Mary <3.