by Paolo Sari MONACO. Hi guys, I am Paolo Sari, the only Michelin Starred&Certified Bio Chef in the world inviting you to join me in my Kitchen at the Elsa 1930 Restaurant. Today you will learn how to make a traditional “baguette” bread. In the Guide Michelin one star Elsa 1930 (and in the hotel’s three other restaurants that I supervise as well) even the bread requires my undivided attention!
In the past the baker kneaded by hand! Today, modern techniques have made it possible to mechanize kneading. The tool does not replace the baker’s state of mind or know-how, but it helps preserve consistency in quality…Today, it is important to value the quality that come out in the best natural way from tradition. Like I told you in the article posted by Montecarlotimes.eu two days ago, the homemade bread’s excellence went out from the interview with the “Boulanger” Jean Kircher, founder of “Pain et Tradition”. Kneading is a major step as it gives the dough the personality that will fully express itself during the baking and of course to the palate. Today, several responsible and respectful bakers make the choice of a slow kneading, which makes a well alveolated dough and gives a creamy colour to it.
That’s why in the Elsa’s workshop we scrupulously respect the rules that make this stage of bread making an essential step for a renewed pleasure on a daily basis. There’s nothing like the homemade aroma wafting through my kitchen as it bakes! As for hydration, the taste of bread has its secrets, and time and water are part of it. The water and the flour must be thoroughly mixed to make a paste hydrated to 67-70%. It will develop the structure of the dough, otherwise known as the gluten network, to obtain a bread “alive” and first above all digestible. In a nutritional and dietary plan carbohydrates (slow sugars) really contribute to a good digestion, unlike those, the fast sugars, involved in industrial bread producing. Moreover, by following these rules, the bread remains soft and some large breads remain good to eat for three days. On the taste, traditional bread develops aromas of honey, caramel, hay and red fruits.
The slow fermentation, also referred to as rising, or proofing, is where the yeast starts to do its work, converting sugars into carbon dioxide, alcohol and organic acids. Every dough has a different primary fermentation time, depending on its formulation. Bakers work with time as well as with their senses to determine when the dough is properly fermented, i.e. at temperatures of 23-24C°, and for 3 to 8 hours, to avoid the “creation” of fast sugars that are directly assimilated by the organism, and one of the sources of obesity. A slow fermentation favours slow sugars. These good sugars are called ” starch resistant”. They act like the grain fibres and slow down digestion. The fermentation of wines and cheeses follow the same rules in terms of temperature, two areas where tradition also makes sense. To reach the full benefit of the fermentation method, a baker must use a traditional gesture, folding the dough by hand before shaping to give strength to the dough.
After shaping, the dough must be set somewhere to rest during its final fermentation. Bakers use baker’s linen, wooden boards and wooden proofing baskets. The linen and the baskets help to hold the shape of the dough during the final fermentation. The final fermentation allows the aromas to develop and give character to the taste. Traditional bakers perpetuate this step-by-step hand-making commitment as an integral part in terms of quality and tradition.
My Homemade “Baguette” Bread Recipe:
Following the French tradition, measurements for flour and water are by weight.
- 500gr. of organic Italian flour
- 1.5 teaspoons dry active yeast,
- 1-3/4 cups warm water (70° to 75°)
- 2 teaspoons organic salt
- 2 tablespoons of organic olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal or additional flour
Tools: Mixing bowl, kitchen scale, counter-top or other smooth surface, bowl scraper, clean hands, baking sheet, kitchen scissors or razor, oven
Total time: Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 50 min. + cooling
Nutritional Facts: 1 slice: 102 calories, 1g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 222mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.
Measure your bread flour into large bowl. Add salt. Add yeast to flour and crumble into the flour with your fingertips. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the water. Using your scraper, fold the water and flour mix together into a shaggy blend. Using your scraper, plop your shaggy mess out onto the counter, and scrape any flour that is still in the bowl out with it.
Now, this part is sticky and messy, but it’s important to remember that the dough will come together in a few minutes of working it. You want to try to avoid adding flour at this stage because it will make your bread really tough and hard to rise.
You may want to flour your hands a little, and maybe add a tablespoon or less of flour to your work surface, but what you really want is to work the ingredients you’ve already got into a smooth elastic dough.
Initially try to incorporate any flour that was left in your bowl. Then pushing and pulling the dough, start folding it over itself, then change directions and fold again. Keep doing this. It adds air to the mix, and activates the gluten and the yeast.
Keep kneading and folding until your dough becomes elastic and stretchy.
This process takes about 10 minutes to get it to a smooth, elastic texture.
Now that your dough is smooth, elastic and activated, fold it in quarters a final time, making a big loose ball. Put the ball in a lightly greased bowl, and roll it once to coat the bread with some oil. Cover loosely with a lint free tea towel, and put somewhere warm and draft free to rise.
Rest the dough for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size. Once your dough has risen, gently scoop it out of the rising bowl with your scraper onto a floured counter or workspace. Divide the dough into two pieces.
Roll into baguettes by pressing each piece into a rectangle.(Not too hard, just lightly press) Fold one third of the rectangle into the middle, and press down along the edge to seal. Fold the other third into the middle, and press to seal. This gives the bread a strong “spine”. Then fold the log lengthwise in half again, and seal.Flip your baguette over and place on a lightly floured parchment lined baking tray, seam side down.Once on the tray, use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or a razor to slice 5-7 slices in the top of the loaf.
Cover your prepped baguette with a lint free and floured tea towel, tucking a bit of it between the loaves to keep them from touching during the second rise if necessary. Let rise for about an hour in a draft free and warm spot. During the last 10 minutes or so of your rise, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake your loaves at 450 for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are a rich golden brown. (Times may vary due to oven temperature variances.)
For a crunchier, thicker crust, spritz your oven with a few squirts ofwater just before you add the bread, or place an oven safe bowl of hot water in the rack below the bread. When done, remove to racks and let cool.
Elsa’s Kitchen Tips
At Elsa’s I enjoy this beautiful crusty bread recipe as is, or I stir in a few favourites like cheese, garlic, herbs and dried fruits.
Don’t have a foil pan? A Dutch oven works great as well, but it’s quite a bit smaller so it’s best to halve the recipe.
The key to this loaf’s crusty exterior? Steam! Trapping moisture in the pan for the initial cook time and using high heat ensure the best bread for your guests