April 6, 2014

Demi Baguettes and Demi Epis

After last week's introduction to breadmaking, it's time to make everyone's favorite: the baguette. However, it is impossible to make a full-length baguette in a home oven, so we're making demi-baguettes instead. These little half-sized baguettes are still just as satisfying as their full-sized counterparts. Another variation of the baguette is the epi baguette, which is exactly the same except for the shape. Epi in french means wheat, and the baguettes are cut in such a design to resemble a wheat stalk. It's especially nice for sharing, since it's so easy to tear off a leaf. Either version is a delicious treat, just begging to be slathered with salted butter. 


After correcting my mistakes last week, I was more confident and looking forward to making these breads. While at Bouchon bakery last year, we got a shaping demonstration for baguettes, and in the book it's noted that even an expert can always strive to be better at shaping, so I didn't have high expectations for my shaping ability. I made demi baguettes one day and demi epis the next day.

The dough was easy enough to make, and I used all the water the recipe called for. The end result was a bit sticky, but not too bad, and I could work with it easily. The technique was similar to last week's bâtards, and I feel like every time I do it it gets easier. When it came to dividing the dough, I weighed each piece and I was a bit off. The book says each should be 190 grams, but I got 185, 182, and 178 grams each. It was obvious that one was smaller than the others. 

When it came to cutting the epis, I had seen it done at the bakery, so I had a good idea of how to do it. I found that the book wasn't very descriptive in that area. I even have the same red scissors from Ikea that they use at Bouchon! I don't think I cut deep enough, or fanned out the leaves well enough. But that comes with practice. 

I'm still having problems getting the shaped dough from the oven peel to the baking stone in the oven. I'm not sure if I need to flour the peel, but I've been using a bowl scraper to slide the dough to the edge of the peel and then onto the stone as quickly as possible. It's too difficult to re-arrange the dough once it's on the stone. The epis were especially difficult to transfer. 

The demi baguettes came out perfectly! Brown and crusty and smelling amazing. It was all I could do not to rip into them immediately. I sure have chosen the wrong time to try and lose some weight. The insides were soft and the crust was crusty. The epis weren't as dark as I would have liked. Not sure if I didn't pre-heat the oven long enough or if I didn't use enough steam. I thought it was the same as with the baguettes, but the end result wasn't the same. 

Overall, I'm getting better at bread-making, and I'm sure I'll make these again and again. All it takes is a little advance planning and practice to have wonderful bread at home. Yum!

Guest Baker: Amanda's demi baguettes, meatball baguette sandwich and demi epis

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