… we seem to have been adopted by a cat… Audrey, for this is now her official name, was waiting patiently for us on our return from the big smoke. We were worried about the little thing but she’d been well looked after by the whole village it seems and particularly Tracey who has been putting food out for her in our garden shed. This weekend she spent her days lounging in the shafts of sunlight that warmed the sofa here in Belleau Cottage only occasionally looking up when one of us happened to loudly swish by disturbing her slumber but by the time we were ready to settle down for a chilled out evening she started climbing the walls… it was cute at first but she was keen to get out into her territory and start a bit of night hunting so we reluctantly let her out and off she ran into the night… of course the next morning she came meowing at the window and we let her in again and of course she found the nearest shaft of sunshine and promptly fell asleep…
… the problem is that we do love having her there but we are simply not there enough ourselves and so we feel that bonding with her like this is a bit of a mistake… we’re already talking about when we’re going to go home next to be with her. So we need to find her a good home. It’s the best possible solution and this is our current task…
I was recently sent some masterclass crustybake bakeware from the good people at KitchenCraft… as you know, i’m a big bread fan, baking my own every weekend but i’ve never made baguettes before. I think the traditional method looks quite complicated or at least quite lengthy and I have very little patience for these things so i’d never really bothered but as part of the package from KitchenCraft I received a very handsome baguette crisping tray so my days of excuses were over and I had to take the plunge… for a recipe I’ve turned the #GBBO master himself Sir Paul of Hollywood for what looks like quite a simple approach to this classic.
as you can see from the photo on the link the unique qualities of the masterclass crustybake bakeware are the multitude of little holes cut out of the heavy duty metal and as you can imagine they are designed to allow air to circulate under and into whatever you’re cooking creating perfect, crispy crusty loaves and not a soggy bottom in sight… the double non-stick coating helps enormously too.
500g strong white bread flour
10g instant dried yeast
olive oil for kneading
lightly oil a 2-3 litre square plastic container – square is important as it helps shape the dough.
Paul advises to use a mixer with a bread hook as the dough is quite wet, so for the next stage put the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer, add three quarters of the water and begin mixing at a low speed, as the dough starts to come together, slowly add the remaining water, then continue to mix on a medium speed for 7 minutes until you have a glossy, elastic dough.
tip the dough into the prepared tub, cover with a tea towel and leave until at least doubled in size – roughly one hour.
line 2 baking trays with parchment or if you have, use a masterclass crustybake baguette tray
drizzle a little olive oil on your work surface and then gently ease the dough out of the tub onto it. Rather than knock back the dough, gently handle it. The dough will be a little sticky
divide the dough into 4 equal rectangles and gently tease out each rectangle into a sausage shape by slowly rolling the palm of your hands along the shape
lay each sausage shape onto your prepared tray, cover with a little oiled cling film or place each tray into a plastic bag and set aside for another hour
during this hour wait, pre-heat your oven to 220C and place an empty but deep baking tray onto the bottom shelf of the oven
once your baguettes are risen, dust them lightly with flour then slash each one 3 times with a sharp knife along its length on the diagonal. Fill the roasting tray with water to create steam and put the bread into the oven
bake for 25 minutes until the bread is golden brown
cool completely on a wire rack before breaking bread
eat and of course, enjoy!