With the arrival of the New Year, our goal to make you travel from within your kitchen continues. Making it simple yet authentic, we start the year with the staple food of France – the French baguettes.
When a foreigner stays in India for a very long time, the first thing he misses is a fresh loaf of bread because of the way it’s cooked abroad. Missing an important food item like bread can actually drive one crazy. Imagine being abroad and not being able to have any kind of spices to cook your food. Admit it, you’ll also go crazy no matter what. This does not imply that breads made in India are not good, but for foreigners living in India, it can be tedious to live without the bread they have grown up with.
Let’s also be fair, breads in France are just awesome. Whether eaten as a sandwich or as an accompaniment to a cheese plate, French breads are evidently delicious. Even with just a little bit of salty butter and a good bowl of green soup. Europeans are bread eaters and we advice you to taste any kind of bread during your travels. In fact, we will teach you today how to prepare your own ‘French baguettes’ at home. Not only will you love it, but even your neighbours, kids and guests too will share the feeling. Everyone will enquire about the recipe of the French bread you made. If you don’t own an oven, please ask your neighbour if you could use his or hers. This recipe is a winner and you’ll have that authentic French bread made at home. You will even ask yourself, why do I need to go to Subway and pay the hard earned money for a sandwich.
• 500 gm plain flour (Maida)
• Two tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
• 10 gm of Salt (Try finding ‘Sel de guerande’, that’s the best)
• 1 packet of yeast (07 gm)
• Between 270 and 300 ml of lukewarm water
1. Pour the Maida in a bowl, add the salt and mix it. It is important to mix it because too much salt can kill the effect of the yeast. Pour two tbsp of olive oil into it and mix it with your hand.
2. Pour the yeast into water, mix it and let the yeast activate for a good 5 minutes till it becomes frosty.
3. Subsequently mix the water and yeast mixture slowly into the flour while kneading it for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Knead it the same way you would whilst making naan. Make sure you use all the water and yeast and knead your dough until it gets soft. Pour some flour on a surface and roll your dough into it. Oil a bowl, put the dough into it, cover it with a wet cloth and let it rise for a good hour.
4. After an hour, your dough will double. With your fist, hit the dough firmly in order to let all the air out. With a pastry roll, roll your dough into a rectangle. Fold it and roll it again. This way, air will get caught between the layers and it will be good for your bread while cooking. Repeat this four or five times. Cut your dough into two equal parts and roll each one in the shape of a small stick. Its length depends on the size of your oven of course.
5. Oil two baking papers and put them on a tray. Place your two sticks of dough on them and pour some more flour. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for another 45 minutes. During that time, your dough will rise again and you will get the shape of a French baguette
6.Preheat your oven between 225 and 250 degrees Celsius. When the oven is ready put your dough in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes. During the first 10 minutes, open the oven and pour some water into the oven to create some steam. Repeat this action three times. Don’t hesitate and go for it. After 25 minutes, take the breads out of the oven. Tap on it and it should sound hollow. If it sounds hollow then your bread is cooked. Let it cool down for a while before you devour it!