This is not a joke

foodnbooty-033.jpgI know, it does seem a little MacGyvor of me to recommend that you bake bread using your food processor. I am not kidding though, it is the best bread you will ever make at home. This is the baguette recipe from a fabulous book The Best Bread Ever by Charles van Over. From this book I also make (and adore) the New York Bagels, Challah, Pizza Dough, Foccacia, whole wheat pitas, and even the raspberry Danish. There are a number of recipes in it that I haven’t tried yet, but I fully intend to do them all, because I believe in Charles van Over, bless his heart.

If you can say anything against this book it is that it gives the illusion of being a difficult process. Charles can get a little carried away with the details. He tells the story of his journey to the food processor in a very compelling way. He owned a large and successful bakery in New York which was supplying sick amounts of baguettes to hotels and restaurants daily. Still, he did not feel that his baguette was all that it should be.

At some point (I think after he sold the bakery), Jacques and Glorian Pepin invited him over to dinner. He naturally offered to bring the bread. Later, Gloria called him and asked him to make the bread in his food processor since they were also having the founder of Cuisinart. He was peeved. He thought “I make wonderful bread, and something I don’t do is make it in the food processor.” However, he tried – and out came the baguette of his dreams. He appears to have then gone on a frenzy of bread baking with the wonderful technology and produced enough recipes to fill an entire cookbook.

If you don’t have a food processor, you should get one (a big one). While these recipes use some rather unconventional techniques, you will be thrilled with the results. Just bear with it and give it a try.


In the bowl of your food processor, put 1 lb. flour, 2 t. salt, and 1 t. yeast. Take the temperature of the flour using an instant read thermometer. Yes, that’s right. Now, adjust the temperature of some water so that the combined temperature adds up to 130 degrees (so if your flour is 65 degrees, make your water 65 degrees). With the motor running pour in all but 2 T. of 1 1/4 c. water. Process for 20 seconds. If the dough does not come together, add the remaining 2 T.

Continue to process for 25 more seconds. Take the temperature of the dough. It should be between 75 and 80 degrees. If it is too hot, put it in the fridge for a few minutes, but if it is too cold, process for 5 second intervals until it reaches the right temp.

Remove the dough to an ungreased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out at room temp for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Don’t worry about it rising (it probably won’t much – this is about fermenting).

Remove the dough to a barely floured work surface and divide into two pieces (or don’t – today I just made one big loaf). Pat into a rectangle. Pull one long side up about 2/3 of the way across the rectangle, and press it down using the heels of your hands. Turn it around and do the same with the other side.

Now, fold it in half lengthwise, pushing the center down and pulling the edges around to pinch together (the concept is to create a lot of surface tension on your loaf). Now, gently roll the loaf in the classic playdough snake-making technique. It will lengthen. Work it until it is a nice long thing, then place seam side up on a floured dishtowel (see picture).

If you are making two, repeat with the other one. Let rise on the counter (covered by the same dishtowel) for about 45 minutes while the oven preheats to 475 degrees with a pizza stone in it. Transfer your loaf (seam side down) to a pizza peel (or back of a cookie sheet) with a dusting of cornmeal. Slash it in near vertical long slashes with either a bread knife or a razor blade, and transfer onto the hot pizza stone.

Using a spray bottle of water, spritz away on the pizza stone and bread to create a good steam. Give it a minute, then repeat. I usually do the water treatment three times at the beginning of baking, and once at the very end (I admit that the spray bottle is a shortcut that Charles may not approve of.)

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the loaf gets a great dark goldy color. Let it cool, and slice.

This whole process would probably take less time than reading it once you have done it.

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22 thoughts on “This is not a joke

  1. I can testify: this is GREAT bread! And I love the fact that with the food processor lid, the flour can’t poof all over your kitchen, like it so frequently does with my mixer. And you can pop the food processor in the dishwasher. It is fantastic. Good bread and easy clean up!

  2. Would it be terribly rude of me to hijack your post for the purpose of conducting an informal food processor poll? I’m wanting advice on which one to buy. I’ve never owned one, but it’s been on my mental wish list, and I suspect I’ll find an excuse to procure one soon. (Finding a place to put it will be nigh unto impossible, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.) Anybody care to give a recommendation?

  3. I can’t stand this, you do realize I’m going to have to make time to try this some time this week, don’t you?

    I have to tell you that everything you have baked and posted looks absolutely beautiful.

    I have been doing serious baking for a few years now and every year I tell myself, this is the year that I am going to tackle a sourdough. Does this baking book have a sourdough recipe? If so, have you tried it? If so, was it any good?

    Have you tried baking a crusty bread in a cast iron? There was a Cook’s Illustrated issue that had a recipe for a round loaf baked in a cast iron. It looked beautiful. Supposedly the cast iron keeps the steam inside the pot which then helps develop the nice hard crust. I believe the reasoning behind this was a better heat distribution and no need to keep misting the bread or putting a container of water in the lower part of the oven. Let me know if you’ve tried this method. If you haven’t and you want the recipe I can send it to you. I plan on trying it myself.

  4. Valerie-
    it wouldn’t be rude at all, but there isn’t much to discuss. Go Cuisinart or go home. I’m just kidding, although I adore mine. I would recommend going 14 cup. I don’t think there is much sense in a smaller one.

    This book has quite a bit on starter breads. There is an introduction about them, and three recipes for them. A simple wheat starter, a natural sour wheat starter, and a European rye starter, as well as about 15 recipes using them. I haven’t made any of them because I think I would forget to feed the starter – but I intend to try sometime.
    As for the crusty round loaf I did try it a couple weeks ago (They have a video podcast about it on itunes that is free) – I thought it was good, it was certainly beautiful, but it was a little over the top crusty for our taste. I think that that may have been what they meant by recommending that you eat it the day you make it. Ours got out of the oven around 11, and we ate it with dinner. I think that I probably needed to put it in a ziploc in between. It was easy, and was fun, but we are back to our golden oldie now. This baguette recipe includes a ton of options on how to shape it and I have made a crusty round out of it with great success.

  5. Hmmm, so I’d love to try this recipe, as I’ve been hunting for a good baguette, but, alas, I have no food processor. I like tweaking things, though – think it might work in a mixer somehow?

  6. Rachel,
    If I lived in Moscow your house would be the place I would want to drop in at. All the senses could be exercised…sweet baby sights and sounds, and the smell of delicious food, oh, the food one could smell, I am sure my nose would lead me to your doorstep. You are an inspiration!

  7. OK, how do you do it? Not only do you have time for 4 darlings and amazing crafting abilities, now you make me feel like a lump with all of your yummy recipes! Where do you get the energy? Are you on something or is it just hormones?:) Really though, you are such an inspiration and it’s so fun reading about the goings on in your house! My hat is off to you!

  8. So, if I don’t have a food processor, do I just not bother with this bread, or can it still turn out nice if I do it by hand?

  9. Melissa and Franci-
    I think you really need to have a food processor for this one. It is based off of the friction of the blade kneading it while producing an ideal temperature for fermenting. My sister has a great baguette recipe that she does by hand. I will see if either she will post it or I will get it from her to do it. However, I think this is a great reason to go out and buy yourself a food processor!

  10. Two replies to comments:
    1) I have a Kitchen Aid Food Processor (12 cup, I think) that I LOVE. I use to to make dough, slice veggies, even pizza dough once, though I was more pleased with the outcome from the stand mixer.

    2) I really liked that Cooks Illustrated dutch oven bread recipe–it was crisp outside and very flavorful. I think it is called no-Knead bread.

  11. Valerie… I would recommend Cuisinart also. That’s what I plan on upgrading to. When I bought my Electolux mixer we did a lot of comparison research on the internet. Everyone was always raving about the Bosch but after much comparison with Viking, Kitchen Aid, etc. etc. we went with the Electrolux (Can’t remember which country makes it). All this to say that as computer savvy as you are I’m sure you’ll be able to find all kind of information on food processors. Also, Cook’s Illustrated does a lot of these comparisons in each issue and I believe more often than not Cuisinart products come out on top because they give the results of the very expensive stuff but with such affordability. Just my two cents worth.

    By the way Valerie, I still plan on sending the lamb recipes to you, I’ve just been very busy lately and I’ll need to set some time aside for it since it’s all in my head. I’m so bummed I didn’t make a neo-office document of it.

  12. Our quiche crust recipe is made in the food processor. We also make biscuits in the food processor, up to where the milk is added. It does a beautiful job cutting the butter into the flour mixture, especially if I’ve forgotten to get the butter out of the freezer.

    My mother-in-law gave us a Robot Coupe about 25 years ago and I’ve never used anything else. It has never needed repair, though I’ve had to replace a few parts (very pricey, as parts always seem to be).

    A great website for bread supplies and information is I learned to bake bread through articles and recipes by Marilyn and she counseled me over the phone when things went wrong.

    If you’re interested in using whole grains, you might be want to look at Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook by Sally Fallon. This is also available at the Urban Homemaker.

  13. Rayia-
    Thanks for the nice thoughts, but until I start giving you virtual tours of our closets and bathroom, don’t believe a word you think!

  14. Thanks for the suggestions, ladies. I already have a mixer, so the Bosch would definitely be overkill. I figured Cuisinart would be the way to go, but the model’s the question. Rachel, sell me on the 14-cup — why do I need to supersize? And if anyone else has experience with other models, please chime in with your thoughts/recommendations!

  15. Valerie-
    I suppose that the 11 cup is fine, but in my opinion once you are using the thing you want to have the capacity to really use it. It is not as though you want to grate one cup of cheese in , but if you really have a grating job, then you might, and if you really have a job to do, you want all 14 cups. I bought the biggest one when we got married, not knowing what I would use it for, but I have never once wished it was any smaller. On the other hand I know lots of people with smaller ones who wish they had bigger. I think it just makes more sense.

  16. Makes more sense…and costs more cents. 😉

    I picked up my KitchenAid at an outlet a couple months ago — refurbished for half the list price. I wish now I’d gone ahead and gotten a food processor, too, but one can’t have everything all at once, can one?

  17. Hi Valerie-
    Just another Cuisinart plug–and yes, do get the 14 cup one. I just have the 11 cup model, and have overwhelmed it upon occasion, including a last minute batch of barbeque sauce that had me welcoming guests to a sticky–albeit pleasant scented–kitchen floor . . . and they do go on spectacular sales at Macy’s, so hold out for a sale.

  18. Okay not sure if you’re still checking this post but I have a question. I made this recipe this morning and it worked out wonderfully. I used my dough blade rather than the regular blade though. Is that right? The dough didn’t seem to come together as well…I had to add a bit of extra water. Everything else came out totally right and the finished product is great but I’m not used to making bread in a food processor…I’m a stand mixer girl, so I wasn’t really sure which blade I was supposed to use for this recipe. I’m sure you’re laughing…use the dough blade for bread…duh! But hey, who knows? Just want to get it right for future reference. Hope that makes sense. And thanks.

  19. Nikki-
    I’m so glad someone soldiered through the lengthy recipe and actually made it! Even happier that it turned out! It actually isn’t a stupid question because I use the cutting blade. I imagine that it would turn out similar with the dough blade, but he recommends using the chopping blade. Good luck for next time!

  20. Well, the winner wasn’t Cuisinart after all. I picked up a Hamilton Beach at a friend’s yard sale for ten bucks. I figured for that price, it’d do me just fine, and if I find later that I want something more upscale, it won’t pain me to replace it!

  21. Question…if there’s anyone that still looks at this blog page… I have a mini Cuisinart food processor that someone gave me as a wedding gift. Could this recipe be halved to fit in there? Or should I just save my pennies and get a full size Cuisinart? Also – for those of us who are not blessed with posessing pizza stones, what’s the next best thing to bake that rediculously tasty looking bread on? Any helpful suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks! 🙂

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