Unbelievable. I just ate a fabulous baguette.  I know, this sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t.  Baguettes are generally not fantastic.  Fantastic at the boulangeries in France are baguette-shaped loaves with names like fagotine, parisse, retrodor…. they’re what I call “improved baguettes.”

Improved baguettes are made with hard-wheat flour.  Sometimes they’re sourdough – that is, the dough has been left to sit and ferment overnight.  Occasionally they include a small percentage of whole wheat flour.  An improved baguette is slightly more expensive than an ordinary baguette, and it’s worth every centime.

Plain baguettes are white on the inside; the crumb is often either airy-er than whipped cream, or so non-descript as to resemble cotton more than bread.  This comes from lots of things including poor quality flour, industrial production, which implies over-beating of the dough, and just plain old negligence. 

What I bought and ate today was sublime, and it took me down memory lane.  Like anyone, on my first visit to France I made a beeline for a bakery. I had a croissant, and I bought a baguette. Oh glory!  That baguette was sublime – shattery-crusted, tender crumbed, flavored of wheat.  It was all I’d ever imagined.

Then I began to understand bread, and to realize that first baguette was a rarity.  Today, I tasted that rarity again. I ate it with extra-virgin olive oil, slices of fresh garlic, and fleur de sel.  Sort of French, sort of not, completely scrumptious!

 

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5 Responses to The Rare and Perfect Baguette

  1. In our TIny Town in Pennsylvania, we have a bakery that is far more wonderful than we deserve:
    http://pomonas.com
    People drive from far and wide to eat there and get bread to take home.
    I wish we could afford to buy our daily bread there, but we content ourselves with a loaf or two every week or so.

    It is an oddity of life that in the US more and more places are growing to appreciate the sort of bread that more and more Europeans are apparently deciding isn’t important.

  2. Barbra love says:

    Sounds delightful! Now I’m too intimidated to make mine for you. Mine doesn’t measure up to the glory described here.

  3. That was good information. I have not heard of hard wheat before. I see that I can buy it online. I am wondering if it will make other types of bread better as well. When the weather cools down I will experiment. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • nutsin says:

      Cathy, Hard wheat is what we mostly have in the U.S. and it makes for great bread. Good luck! You can get it through King Arthur, I believe.

      Susan

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