“Luckily, with so much bread failure behind me, success was surely on its way. It just had to be.”
My small window of opportunity opened when I least expected it. Things shifted. Suddenly, my bread confidence was up and seemingly every piece of knowledge I had ever breathed in came together in this baguette dough.
There were all the intellectually over-my-head conversations with bread masters like Sullivan St Bakery‘s Jim Lahey (whom I’ve known for more than 10 years and worked with for a couple of those), and cookbook author and longtime instructor Peter Reinhart (whom I shared a gluten-free/gluten-full panel with at an IACP conference).
And my all-consuming years as an Italian bakery owner, my countless annotated baking and bread cookbooks that line my bedroom wall as well as my blog reading, especially this post on gluten-free baguettes by my friend and cookbook colleague, Zoë François of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day fame. She took the fear out of me. Now, let’s hope I can do that for all of you, too.
What all of my bread mentors—and their mentors before them—had in common was one ingredient: Time. It’s no secret that bread baking has always been a time commitment. You have active time (measuring ingredients, mixing and shaping) and passive time (proofing the dough, at least twice).
But, if you use Zoë’s method of proofing in the fridge, time is on your side.
“The single-most reason to let the dough chill out in the fridge overnight is flavor. Only time can give you that.”
The results of my patience have been worth every hour I’ve spent waiting. I’ve watched Isaiah tear off pieces and dip them into a jar of our Nutella Knockoff and Chiara loves soaking up extra-virgin olive oil with it. I like slicing a baguette in half, horizontally, and making a crusty sandwich—and I mean crusty. Like every good Italian, I can now wipe my plate clean with bread. I’ve also made crostini, panini and strawberry bread pudding.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour blend, sorghum flour, xanthan gum, salt and yeast. Add the eggs, oil, honey and water, and with the motor on medium-high, mix for 4 minutes until a sticky, stretchy dough forms. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap and let proof at room temperature for about 2 hours. Refrigerate for about 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Sprinkle flour over a sheet of parchment paper and using wet hands, pull out ½ of the dough and place on the parchment while gently lifting and stretching the dough into a baguette-like shape. Run warm water over your hands and gently smooth out the top and sides, rinsing your hands as needed. Place the shaped dough with parchment into a baguette pan, if using, and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Let proof at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, place a baking stone on the bottom rack and preheat your oven to 475º degrees. Using a serrated knife, diagonally score the loaf three times, about ¼-inch deep. Place the baguette pan onto the preheated stone and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the parchment paper (if using the baguette pan only) and bake until golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, 20 to 30 minutes more. Turn off the heat, open the oven door and let cool in the oven for 30 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe Tip: If you remove the loaves from the oven to let cool completely and they soften, just turn the oven back on and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. The bread will get crusty—and stay crusty.