These are my first baguettes, ever! I am so glad with how they turned out especially that they were not baked in an oven. I feel that it is a real accomplishment in my baking; I thought baguettes were impossible to bake in my clay pot, but I just defied that today. Perhaps the only impossible clay pot bakes are breads that cannot be flipped like a pizza but if it can be flipped, I can handle it! :)
These are Vietnamese baguettes, ones used for banh mi which means these have rice flour in the dough. It is not confirmed if it is true or not but I saw baguettes with rice flour in TFL and experienced its effect in bread doughs in the past so I added a bit here too. They differ from classic French baguettes in that they have a lighter, airier, fluffier crumb with a thinner more crackly crust. A banh mi place opened here a couple of years ago and I was amazed with its taste, it was a harmony of contrasting flavors and textures. I don't know if their baguettes were from Vietnam but it had those characteristics. My favorite was the grilled pork banh mi. Within a few years that I have not visited, I just found out that they were closed but I miss banh mi so much that I decided to try make my own. Fillings are easy to make however the bread was not.
Banh mi dough is highly standardized in Vietnam so no one actually knows what goes in the dough. I consulted various sources and proceeded to make my own dough. I used some AP flour, rice flour, water, sugar, salt and a BF-fed levain. Most recipes I found added ascorbic acid to the dough but I omitted it and just relied on the lactic and acetic acids produced by my starter. To provide additional lift to the dough, I added a bit of baking powder. I poured water until I got a gloopy mess then kneaded it until I got a strong windowpane, it roughly took 30 minutes. The dough was pretty strong at the end. Bulk fermentation took 4 hours until more than doubled. I divided it into 3 and preshaped them into tight boules then they went to the fridge immediately.
The next day I shaped them quite differently from how you shape French baguettes. I flattened the boules into a sort of rectangular shaped with one end wider than the other then you roll tightly into a cylinder then taper the ends by applying more pressure as you roll it outward. Although the dough is so wet, it was not so sticky to shape.
I proofed them for 1 hour. They doubled so quickly. I am not that confident in scoring dough so I mustered enough courage then scored confidently. In Vietnam, they only do a single long slash. I also tried the classic scoring. I struggled with making a straight single long slash and it did not open up so well. I think I did better with the classic one because it was easier because the blade has to travel shorter. I baked them in my clay pot over heated pebbles and had I shaped them any longer, they will not fit in my pot anymore! Average length was 8 inches or 20 centimeters.
Here are the baked baguettes.
The crust was super crispy when they came out of the clay pot.
Is that an ear? I'm not sure what an ear is. Please enlighten me.
I should have changed hand positions to pick the loaf up in a better angle.
Crumb shots. The crumb was very soft and light with the slightest bit of chew and fluffy and tight typical of its kind. Mine were just moister and a little more stretchier than a banh mi baguette crumb.
I can pull out the crumb easily like this.
Ready to be filled with various fillings.
Although I tried to achieve a Vietnamese baguette, the results are actually in between a Vietnamese and a French baguette. The crumb is lighter, tighter, softer, airier and fluffier than a traditional French baguette but the crust was not as thin, delicate, crisp and crackly as a Vietnamese baguette. I think I have made a new baguette, can they be called Philippine baguettes or more accurately Pal baguettes or baguettes à la Pal?
The crust became soft after cooling which was easily remedied by a brief toasting prior to filling (that's what they do in Vietnam too, right? but over charcoal) probably because the baguettes were small and can't be baked long enough to drive out the moisture for that long lasting crispiness. Should I make a drier dough or bake them longer over gentler heat. I am happy with the crumb though. I prefer the look of the classic baguette with multiple cuts, I think it was way prettier!
The taste was complex. Sweet with a little tang and a clean wheat flavor with dark caramelized notes from the bold bake. They were a bit light on their own which means they lend themselves extremely well to sandwiches. Honestly, they were much more flavorful than the baguettes used in the now closed banh mi place that I used to visit here.
Now I understand why some folks here chase baguette perfection. It's so much fun and fulfilling even with failures. I can't wait to make a French baguette or really, I can't wait to make another baguette of any kind though I know 24 inch ones are just another dream for me because of the limited size of my clay pot. I still can't believe that these baguettes came out of my clay pot!
I chose to make a simple banh mi this time which is not a very popular variation. Thankfully Helen from Helen's recipes brought it to light!
Good Bread + Good Egg = Bliss
Fry it sunny-side up then drizzle it with Maggi! We also have an affinity with Maggi sauce. Rice and just it is a lunch, an egg is just a bonus!
It's a nice snack when you wander off-road. The combination of the light and crispy bread, the rich eggs and the savory Maggi sauce is just so satisfying! I was also surprised with how filling it was, it sustained me for 3 hours!
It's my birthday and I just received the best birthday gift. I just verified my licensure exam rating and it was unexpectedly very high. I just prayed to pass with a 75.00 rating but God made me achieve more than that. It was just 2.20 points short from making it to the top 10 passers of the hardest licensure exam here!
As a techer with a major in social science, I might ask you sometimes a question or two about history, culture or food. :) It's fun to know other people and cultures through food. I once made an Ethiopian student taking his PhD in my university smile. He was alone and I ask him if he was a French teacher and he said a no, a FIRM NO! Then I asked him where is he from and he said Ethiopia, so I said "Wow! Do you make and eat injera here?" and he flashed a huge smile. Then I said again "I know you you sometimes make it as a plate and you eat it with doro wat." he smiled again this time much bigger. He said he never thought that someone outside his country will know something about their culture. I even studied simple Amharic (Ethiopia's official language which is so difficult for me) greetings and greeted him whenever I saw him and with that we became friends during his stay in the university. Well, I only learnt about injera here so thanks a lot TFL!
Feeling more than contented, we just bought some KFC which is my favorite fried chicken of course with some rice and lots of gravy (I hope you don't find it strange, I think it's only here where it is done!) and some ice cream (again with strange flavours!) for a simple celebration.
It was what I ate too during the 12 grueling hours of the exam.
And some mangoes just harvested today!
God blessed me with another year in my life and I am very thankful for it along with all the blessings that I have received this year. Thank you TFLers! I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did!