honey lavender baguettes
After a very long hiatus from food blogging, I’ve realized that it’s time for an update on my cooking activities. Mostly it’s just been a summer too full of browsing though farmers markets, exploring the coop in my new neighborhood, volunteering at the food shelf’s kitchen and of course baking macarons– much to full to step back and write about it all. I guess I just had no idea where to start, and was dorking out about food enough at my baking job that I was fulfilled (really, quite stuffed) without blogging. But as the summer is winding down and I’m no longer ashamed to take a few hours inside on the computer rather than running around in the sun, it’s time to reorganize my thoughts and say a few things out loud.
There’s a whole list of wonderful summer foods I want to share, but mostly I really just want to take a minute to talk about baking bread. You guys were there as witnesses the first time I successfully made sandwich bread (though luckily no one had to see my first loaf of rock-hard challah bread) and my love for home baking has exploded since then: bagels from scratch, pita bread, and herb bread were soon to follow. Now I find my own rhythm to baking bread and have gotten to intimately know the french baguette over the last few weeks. Really, mine is more like a rustic white bread or a classic Italian bread because I take the simple route and don’t use a starter fermentation. But for me what really makes a baguette a baguette française is the texture, crusty and golden on the outside but moist and spongey on the inside. And that I can now do really well.
What I’ve learned over dozens of batches this summer are a few very simple techniques that will ensure the right contrast of textures:
1. Always let your bread rest after it’s been shaped into loaves for at least 20 minutes, but I prefer for them to double in size again right before sticking them in the oven so the final product is light and fluffy.
2. Keep a baking tin of water on the bottom rack of the oven beginning when you turn the oven on to preheat; this creates a steaming effect that traps the moisture in.
3. Halfway through baking, so after about 15 minutes, it helps to take the bread out and spray/mist the loaves with water to make sure it remains moist.
4. Be sure to remember to cut diagonal slits on the top before going in the oven, so they come out looking as good as they smell!
Once the basic recipe is down, almost any flavorings can be added. While I’m always a fan of the toss-whatever-herb-is-exploding-out-of-the-garden-bed recipe, I’ve found lavender honey bread to be sweet yet savory, with the last hint of summer flowers I know I’ll soon be missing.
Krista’s Honey Lavender Baguettes
Makes two medium-sized loaves. Total time: about 2 hours.
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 2 tablespoons of yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour