Homemade Baguettes

I have this fantasy in which I live in Paris.  I wake up at 10am every day, then proceed to get a milky cup of cafe au lait and a chocolate croissant, then take a leisurely walk along the Seine.  When I’m feeling peckish again, I grab a baguette and a hunk of cheese and sit for a long lunch on a sunny patch of grass on the Ile St. Louis.   I lounge there, eating bread and cheese and reading Hemingway.  I have red wine too.  There’s an accordion playing in the background and I’m wearing stripes.  I sit there with my bread, my book, and my Bordeaux until one of them runs out, then I take a deep breath, thank my lucky stars, and go along my merry way.  It’s a good life I have in Paris.
It’s a good life I have here, too, though.  Sure, most days I have to get up earlier, and while we do have a river, there are no islands in it.  Even so, I get to live in another one of my favorite cities in the world and I can make baguettes at home, anytime I want.  So, I’m not complaining.

Homemade baguettes.  This was by far my favorite stand mixer adventure and the one that I am most proud of.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it was to start a project on a Saturday morning with serious amounts of trepidation and end Sunday night with my entire building smelling like a French bakery and four golden loaves to show for my hard work.

Let’s make baguettes!

The day before you want fresh baguettes (which in theory was, like, yesterday), begin the process.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all of your ingredients: instant yeast, bread flour, salt, and warm water.
Mix with the paddle attachment until a shaggy dough is formed, much like this:
Attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and tacky but not too sticky.
Remove dough from stand mixer and add to a lightly oiled bowl.  Let rise in the fridge for up to four days and at the very least overnight.
The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator at least two hours prior to baking and let it come to room temperature.  It should have doubled in size overnight.  Gently transfer it to a lightly floured work space, being careful to release as little gas as possible.
Divide dough into four equal parts.  I keep it in a circular shape and cut it vertically then horizontally to ensure I’m getting equally sized pieces.  Once the dough is divided, begin shaping the baguettes.
Roll one piece of dough out until it is roughly a thick rectangle.  Fold the bottom and top edges into the middle and press to seal.  Then fold the dough on top of itself again and seal the edges well.  Wet your hands slightly and starting from the middle and working your way out, gently roll the dough so it becomes elongated.  Place seam side down on a baking sheet.  Repeat for the remaining pieces of dough (or let them hang out in the refrigerator for up to 4 days and have fresh bread all week!)
Let the formed baguettes proof (rise) for one and a half hours more.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place  a casserole pan on the bottom rack of the oven, below where the baguettes will be baked.  Just prior to baking, take a sharp knife and score the tops of the baguettes, but don’t go too deep or they’ll break apart when you transfer them later.

When oven is preheated, transfer loaves to the top rack of the oven and add one cup of hot water to the pan underneath the baguettes.  This creates steam while baking and gives baguettes their golden, crusty exterior.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until the baguettes are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Remove from the pan to stop the cooking and let cool on a wire rack, or in my case, by the window, until ready to serve.
This two-day undertaking was a crash course in bread baking if there ever was one.  I figured if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. As I mentioned before, even if these had been a disaster, the smell alone was worth it.  The smell of baking bread is one of life’s great pleasures, isn’t it?
You should wait until the baguettes have cooled because they slice much neater that way and that’s what the recipe says to do.  However, if you’re at all like me and find yourself doing any or all of the following: wearing new clothes the day you buy them; looking to the end of the chapter as your reading a book to see how long it is; or always, always looking when someone says “don’t look!”, you will not wait.  You will eat just a corner of one of these hot, soft, luxurious creations right away and burn your hand in the process.
As far as taste goes, these were baguettes!  That’s the best thing I can say about them; they were crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, and were perfect with salted butter and jam or, my personal favorite, any type of cheese, ever.  

You’ve all heard me go on and on and on about my stand mixer.  I have completely fallen head over heals for that appliance and how easy it makes my life.  So far the dough hook has been my best friend and I have made pretzels, bagels, hamburger buns, and, of course, my tour de force, these baguettes.  If you have a stand mixer, or have the space, the strength, and the patience to knead by hand, you should try these.
Sitting in the sun drinking wine and eating bread and cheese in Paris sounds wonderful, but making these at home is equally as great.

Here’s the recipe!

Homemade Baguettes
Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon (1 package) instant yeast
  • 2 cups warm water

Method

  1. Prep Day: Combine all ingredients in bowl of mixer, set with paddle attachment, and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute until well blended and smooth.  Dough should form a coarse, shaggy ball.  Switch to dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes.  Dough should be smooth and tacky but not sticky.  Transfer to a large clean, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.
  2. Baking Day: Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours prior to baking.  Gently transfer to lightly floured work surface, being careful to release as little gas as possible.  Divide dough into four equal portions. You can also remove just enough dough to make one baguette and have fresh bread for the rest of the week!
  3. To form the baguettes pat each piece of dough into a thick rectangle.  Fold the top side to the middle and press to seal.  Fold the bottom side up to the middle and again, press to seal.  Fold the top over onto itself and form a new seal on the bottom.  With lightly floured hands, gently rock hands back and forth starting at the middle and working your way out, until the loaf is elongated and slightly tapered at the end.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Add a casserole dish to the bottom oven rack.  Just before baking, score the baguettes with a sharp serrated knife or razor.  Ensure that the cut goes no further than 1/4 an inch into the loaf.  When ready, add baguettes to oven and pour one cup of hot water into the casserole dish on the lower rack.  This serves as a steam pan and gives the baguettes their golden, crusty exterior.  Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour.  Serve with butter, cheese, or as the star of a sandwich.

Enjoy!

 

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t think there is anything better in this wide world than chocolate chip cookies.  I’m sure I’ve made grand statements like this before, but I mean it this time.  Chocolate Chip Cookies are divine.  They’re amazing.  They’re perfect.
I was craving these little dollops of heaven so I found this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, named Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, and obviously had to do something about this.  Immediately.

I mixed the bowl of wet ingredients and another bowl of dry ingredients, then slowly added the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Then I added the chocolate chips, putting the extra chips in the freezer.  I may or may not have bought the family-size package for this very reason.  I can neither confirm nor deny.

Then I put the dough in the refrigerator for about thirty minutes while the oven was preheating.  After the dough was done chilling out, I scooped out the dough in 1 inch balls and arranged on a greased baking sheet.  I baked for 10 minutes and the most adorable, perfect, silver-dollar sized cookies came out.
Lovely.

I only made twelve, then I pre-formed the rest of the dough and put it in a ziplock bag and froze them.
Now I can have fresh baked cookies any time I want for as long as this dough will last.  I’m predicting it doesn’t last long.

 

No-Fail Fried Chicken Tenders

I’ve unlocked the code to fried chicken, and I didn’t even know there was a code.  I’ve truly never had bad fried chicken, except for nuggets–I’m not a fan of nuggets.  Other than that, I’m sure I’ve had greasy fried chicken or fried chicken that was probably frozen at one time, but while I was clearing my plate, I wasn’t thinking this fried chicken just isn’t doing it for me.  I wish I ordered a salad.  

That said, this chicken is different.  Maybe I didn’t know what I was missing not frying my chicken at home.  Or maybe everyone in the world does this and I haven’t unlocked anything.  Either way, I’ve found a fool-proof way to fry chicken that is incredibly flavorful, super crunchy, and yields the juiciest chicken.  The key?  Buttermilk.

I made this chicken for the Super Bowl, and I am not exaggerating when I say that after K suck a bite of the first batch of chicken, it took the man to his knees.  It’s that good.  Don’t let the frying scare you.  If you can heat oil, you can fry chicken, and then you can rule the world because everyone will be struck dumb by how good your chicken is, will eat too much of it, and slip into a happy food coma.

This is my plan, anyway.

Let’s fry.

The key to this chicken’s power is a nice long soak in a buttermilk mixture.  You can do this in a bowl or in a zippered freezer bag, whichever is easiest.  I started with a freezer bag, poured the buttermilk in, then realized that I had a huge hole in said freezer bag.  Then I tried a different freezer bag and that one had a huge hole in it as well.  Clearly someone is sneaking into my apartment and cutting holes in my freezer bags, so I just decided to marinate my chicken in a large bowl.

I bought chicken tenderloins that were already cut, then I cut those in half for a smaller bite.  This method would work with any chicken though, on the bone or tenders.  Add about a cup of buttermilk to the chicken and a couple glugs of your favorite hot sauce.  Season with salt, pepper, and some cajun seasoning, then let it soak, covered, for at least an hour, but up to 24.  The soak is the key to juicy chicken.

When you’re ready to fry, add 2 cups of all-purpose flour to a bowl with 1/2 cup of coarse cornmeal.  Stir that together with a fork, then season with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning.  Then, and here’s another trick, add about a tablespoon of buttermilk to the flour.  All this does is make some clumps, so when you bread the chicken, there are nice big chunks stuck to the outside, which translates into nice big post-fry crunch.

Just toss that around until the buttermilk is absorbed.  Then take the chicken out of the marinade and place it directly into the flour mixture.  Move it around a bit, turn it, flip it, cover it and pat it down–whatever you need to do to make sure the entire chicken is coated in breading.  Then transfer to a wire cooling rack that has been placed over a baking sheet.

Continue this until all your chicken pieces are breaded.  Meanwhile, your oil should be heating to 350 degrees.  You can do this in a deep-fryer, or if you’re a normal person and don’t own one of those, in a large pot with a candy or fry thermometer.  Don’t have one of those either?  No worries.  Just heat the oil long enough so that if you stick a wooden spoon in the oil, it bubbles.

Carefully lower your chicken into the oil, working in batches.  Let fry for about 6-8 minutes, until deep golden brown.  You might have to take a piece out and cut into it to make sure it’s fully cooked–you’re looking for white meat throughout.  Season with salt right when it comes out of the fryer.

Keep this up until all your chicken is fried.  If you are frying a lot, you can keep your chicken warm in an oven that is set to the lowest temperature.

When your chicken is done, rejoice.  You just fried chicken!  I think this is a big deal!

Then eat that chicken.

I made an assortment of sauces that were not all for the chicken, but were all delicious with the chicken.    We had other appetizers that required sauce too.  The sauce post is coming up next, per a reader request, but until then what you see there is buffalo, blue cheese, honey mustard, and my own special concoction of fry-sauce.

The chicken is incredibly juice and tender.  What’s amazing is that the meat is actually flavorful throughout.  This is not just about the breading, which is weird for me, because that’s usually my favorite part of fried things.  In this case, though, the breading is definitely crunchy but not overpowering.  It’s not too greasy, either.  I’m telling you the truth when I say that it’s fool-proof.

This chicken is it.  And if you make it, you can help me rule the world, too, if you want to.  I’m sure that’s an exhausting job for one person.

Here’s the recipe!

A related article You may be interested in power pressure cooker reviews 2017

No-Fail Fried Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts, cut into strips.  You can cut these into smaller bites too, if you want.
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon for the breading
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided, and more for seasoning the final product
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning, divided
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup coarse cornmeal
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (this will depend on how big your pot is, but I will tell you that it should fill 1/2 the pot, so about 3 inches of oil.  My deep-fryer requires a gallon!  You can also do this in a skillet with about an inch of oil, but you’ll have to flip them–it won’t be as easy as just submerging them in oil).

Method

  1. In a ziplock bag or large bowl, add chicken.  Cover with buttermilk, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of cajun seasoning.  Make sure the chicken is submerged, then zip or cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but up to 24.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees, as measured by a candy or fry thermometer, or when the oil bubbles when you place a wooden spoon in it.
  3. As the oil comes up to temperature, bread your chicken.  In a large plate or bowl, add flour, cornmeal, the rest of the seasonings, and one tablespoon of buttermilk.  Toss to combine, making sure the buttermilk is absorbed and has formed nice little chunks of breading.  Working in batches, take the chicken from the buttermilk and toss it in the breading, making sure it is well coated.  Transfer to a wire rack that has been placed over a baking sheet.
  4. When the chicken is breaded, carefully place in the hot oil, working in batches.  Let fry for about 6-8 minutes, until the breading is a deep golden brown and the chicken is white throughout.  You may need to move it around a bit with a wooden spoon or strainer to ensure it’s not sticking.  Season with salt right out of the fryer.  Repeat until all the chicken is fried.  If you need to keep the chicken warm, you can place the plate into an oven preheated to the lowest temperature.
  5. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces (coming soon!) 

Enjoy!

 

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As mentioned before, there are a bunch many different ways you make use of to help teeth whiter and ways to prevent them from yellowing. The advice in order to read from this article guide you take care of your teeth make sure that they are free of charge of any stains, healthy and blue.

Teeth whitening has for ages been on top of our agenda. Let’s take a look set at a few whitening tips to remove stains. Try asking your dentist for a gel that an individual can take home for teeth whitening.

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Other great article you can view Best Vacuum for Stairs 

5 Attributes to Look For When Buying a Weekend Jute Bag

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