Despite all self-sabataging efforts, this baguette came out just barely shy of pefection. (This picture is bad and I couldn't get those beautiful slits in the top of the loafs--that is all.) It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside and salty. The French are genius, and apparently, I am too. I have tried my hand at making bread countless times. Countless. The only time I've ever made yeast bread that was even edible was this idiot-proof bread from Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. Other times I've burned them, but most often they refuse to rise and end up more akin to a cement block. This French baguette, my friends, is a true success. I have been trying for literally years (seriously--I used to make yeast bread weekly when I lived with my parents) to achieve this, and I can't even believe it happened because I did not follow the directions.
They say that's the rule with baking: There are rules and they must be followed. Cooking allows much more improvisation (and room for error). But substitute olive oil for butter in a cake and you're screwed. The problem with bread is waiting. The bread has to rise (in the right climate) for a certain period of time. Well the World Cup and the rest of my social life took precedence over kneading bread after it had risen one hour. And when I did end up kneading, the dough was so gummy and gooey I thought for sure it would just melt in the oven. I obviously know nothing about proper bread making because I thought all those other times would work out, and they ended in complete and utter failure. It felt imminent this time. Certain death of good yeast. I guess I know a lot less about life and love and bread than I thought I did.
Baguette: from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook