French Bread Baguette with Chive Blossom Butter

RESfrench_bread-17 Every place we visited while in St. Martin sold French bread baguettes.  Seriously, from the checkout line at the grocery store to the checkout line at the gas station, French baguettes were everywhere.  And what a perfect seaside lunch too; a baguette, some meats and cheeses, fruit and maybe a couple of beers or a bottle of wine?  Yes please, sign me up.

I totally got fired up when I learned making your own French bread baguette is not very difficult.  Plus, if you own a stand mixer, it’s even simpler!

oui oui!

oui oui!

To be successful with any bread-making requires an abundance of patience.  Knead, wait, rise, knead, wait, rise; rinse and repeat many times… Ok, not actual rinsing, but you get the idea.

the ingredients...

the ingredients…

So amazing that 4 simple ingredients can turn into a crusty, craggy beautiful baguette.  Yeast, water, flour, and salt.  So simple and lovely.

Let’s get it started, heat water to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and whisk in the yeast until dissolved.  Let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles start appearing and the mixture looks foamy.

you'll need one of these to know your water temp...

you’ll need one of these to know your water temp…

Next, mix the flour into the water and yeast mixture with a fork.  Stir until a dry dough forms and all the flour is incorporated.  Let it sit for 20 minutes to give the water time to hydrate.

it'll be a little dry but that's ok

it’ll be a little dry but that’s ok

Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, scoop the dough into the mixer’s bowl and also add the salt.  Mix on a speed of 2 for 5-7 minutes.  If you do not have a stand mixer, lightly flour your work surface and knead with your hands for about 10 minutes.  You’ll know the dough is ready to start resting and rising once it becomes smooth and elastic.

smooth & elastic for the win

smooth & elastic for the win

Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set in cool, dry place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

it's alive!

it’s alive!

Remove dough from bowl and place onto a floured work surface.  Shape dough into an 8 x 6″ rectangle and fold like you would a t-shirt.  Fold the longer sides towards the middle and the shorter sides over the longer sides.  Put the dough back into the pre-greased bowl seam side down, re-cover with plastic wrap, and place in the cool, dry spot again.  Let it rest for an hour.

Next step, place a cast-iron skillet on the lowest rack of your oven.  Place a pizza stone (or an inverted baking sheet) onto the middle rack of your oven.  Set the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 3 equal pieces.  Take 3 pieces of parchment paper and lightly flour them, I cut mine to fit the size of the bread loaves.  Shape the dough into foot long loaves and place on the floured parchment paper, making sure the paper separates the loaves from one another.  Place rolled up towels on either side of the loaves to they rise lengthwise, and not upwards.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.

RESfrench_bread-8

At this point in the recipe, I started to get excited because my french bread was starting to really look like french bread!  Because I am a product of my mother, I started singing a song about it and decided to call my sister and sing it to her.  Queue Jim Morrison, ala The Doors L.A. Woman “my-french-bread-is-risin”.  She was not impressed and told me to stop ruining a classic song.  Le Sigh.

After the hour passes, take kitchen scissors and snip 4″ gashes at a 30 degree angle down the loaves.

RESfrench_bread-9 While still on the parchment paper, slide the loaves into the preheated oven and onto the preheated pizza stone (or inverted baking sheet).  Drop the ice cubes into the cast iron skillet at the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door.  Set a timer for 25 minutes and do not open the door.  The steam created from the ice cubes will help the loaves finish rising.

RESfrench_bread-11

chive butter is like manna from heaven

chive butter is like manna from heaven

Since I have an overabundance of chives on my balcony, I decided to make chive blossom butter to go with my crusty baguette.  Take a nub of softened butter and snipped chives (throw some chive blossoms in there if you have them) and mash together until creamy.  Spread on baguette slices and enjoy!

what's more Easter-riffic than flowers in your butter?

what’s more Easter-riffic than flowers in your butter?

So, in a little over 4 hours, you have beautiful, homemade, warm, crusty, French baguettes with nooks and crannies perfect for holding your homemade chive blossom butter.  Your welcome!

French Bread Baguette (adapted from Dan Leader’s recipe on Food52.com)
Prep time: 4 hours
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 3 baguettes
Print This Recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup water, heated to 115F
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • approximately 1/4 cup flour, for dusting work surfaces

Method:

  1. Heat water to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and whisk together with yeast until dissolved.  Let sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles start appearing and the mixture appears foamy.
  2. Mix the flour into the water and yeast mixture with a fork.  Stir until a dry dough forms and all the flour is incorporated.  Let it sit for 20 minutes to give the water time to hydrate.
  3. With the dough hook on a stand mixer, scoop the dough into the mixer’s bowl and add the salt.  Mix on a speed of 2 for 5-7 minutes.  The dough will be ready once it becomes smooth and elastic.
  4. Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Place the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set in cool, dry place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  5. Once doubled in size, remove dough from bowl and place onto a floured work surface.  Shape dough into an 8 x 6″ rectangle and fold the longer sides towards the middle and the shorter sides over the longer sides.  Put the dough back into the pre-greased bowl seam side down, re-cover with plastic wrap, and place in the cool, dry spot again.  Let it rest for an hour.
  6. Place a cast-iron skillet on the lowest rack of the oven.  Place a pizza stone (or an inverted baking sheet) onto the middle rack of your oven.  Set the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut into 3 equal pieces.  Take 3 pieces of parchment paper and lightly flour them.  Shape the dough into foot long loaves and place on the floured parchment paper, making sure the paper separates the loaves from one another.  Place rolled up towels on either side of the loaves to they rise lengthwise, and not upwards.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.
  8. After the hour passes, take kitchen scissors and snip 4″ gashes at a 30 degree angle down the loaves.
  9. While still on the parchment paper, slide the loaves into the preheated oven and onto the preheated pizza stone (or inverted baking sheet).  Drop the ice cubes into the cast iron skillet at the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door.  Set a timer for 25-30 minutes.
  10. Once the loaves are nicely browned, slice and serve with cheese, butter, Easter dinner, Bahn Mi sammies, whatever!
Chive Blossom Butter
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chives
  • couple pinches of chive blossom petals

Mash all above butter ingredients together until well mixed.  Spread on bread.  Eat.  Enjoy!

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