I 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.