Monthly Archives: September 2013

Eventually, everyone bakes baguettes

A number of things put me off baking baguettes. First, by reputation, baguettes go stale very quickly and I like my bread to last. Secondly, my initial researches suggested, the success of the baguette depends on specially-shaped baguette trays, cloth couches and baguette flipping boards.

I thought I would make a sourdough baguette and prepared a white and rye dough on a Wednesday night, putting it in a chilled box overnight. The next day, I made my own baguette tray out of a roasting dish lined with a large napkin, with a folded cardboard tube down the middle to give me the approximate shape. The dough was then proved in a chilled box (OK – my ‘chilled box’ is a polystyrene box that used to contain brocolli in which I place two freezer packs and a couple of upturned glasses to act as a trivet).

On Friday morning, I took the two loaves out of the box and left them to feel comfortable in the kitchen. When the oven was straining away at 250 degrees, I slashed both loaves and slid them inside.

Twenty minutes later … I was quite surprised.

Sourdough baguettes - the first effort

Sourdough baguettes – the first effort

They looked alright – although not particularly consisent in colour or shape – and the taste was wonderful. Worth another go, I think …


Hemp and Honey Bread

Hemp and Honey Bread

When Howard on The Great British Bake-Off announced he was going to make a tea loaf with hemp flour, I feared the worst. My own experiments with using hemp seeds in my bread had produced a nice flavour – hemp seed has a spicy, nutty quality – but the bread was quite dry in the mouth and the hemp itself abrasive.

For my second experiment, I roasted the rest of the hemp seeds and then ground them in a mortar and pestle. After half an hour of grinding and sifting, my wife came into the kitchen and watched me for a few minutes. ‘Why,’ she said, ‘don’t you use our little grinder?’

‘Because,’ I replied, ‘I didn’t know we had a little grinder.’

The resultant home-made hemp flour was brown-green, heavily aromatic, and felt like sand. I decided the bread wouldn’t work without some additional sweetness, so I added some honey to the dough.

The result was rather pleasant. I think it could be made into a tea loaf, with a bit more honey and some soaked fruit, but it would take a while to prove – not the sort of thing I would risk making under time pressure.

So I will miss Howard. I thought his flavour experiments were inspired.