The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bouabsa Baguettes at the Beach

DonD's picture

Bouabsa Baguettes at the Beach


A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our annual fall pilgrimage to Hatteras Village for a week of relaxation, fishing, oystering and clamming. As usual, we were joined by a couple of dear friends who are also lovers of good food and wine. We always bring everything but the kitchen sink down there so that we can all take turns cooking fantastic seafood meals to go with the several cases of wines that made the trip with us. The problem is that we cannot find good bread down there so this year, I decided to bring the most essential of ingredients and utensils so that I can bake some French Baguettes. Also my friend Barbara, ever since tasting my Baguettes had repeatedly asked me to give her a tutorial on how to make them. Because of our busy play schedule during the day, I thought that the Anis Bouabsa formula would be perfect because aside from being a great recipe, it allows me to spend 3 hours each evening over 2 days and we would have fresh Baguettes for dinner.

Baguette 101:

So with Barbara as my Assistant Baker and with a lot of trepidation, I proceeded to show her step by step how to weigh and mix the ingredients, to master the art of the Autolyse, the Stretch and Fold, the Cold Retardation, the Shaping and Scoring and finally the Baking with Steam. Trouble was I was not armed with my usual battery of utensils that I normally use in my baking. No Mixer, no Thermometer, no Couche, no Baking Stone, no Lame, no Calibrated Oven, no Water Spritzer Bottle, no Cast Iron Skillet, no Lava Rocks. Was I doomed for failure?

Au Contraire, Mon Frere! As I proceeded with mixing and working the dough by hand, it developed beautifully and after the cold retardation, I shaped the loaves and proofed them on a perforated baguette pan I brought along that I used  to bake with in my pre-TFL days. I used a plain double edged razor blade to score the loaves. I put a broiler pan in the old electric oven and poured in 1 cup of hot water for steam. The baguettes rose fine, the ears opened up nicely, the crust was crackly, the crumb was open and soft and best of all the taste was fantastic, as good as any I have baked under more ideal conditions. We greatly enjoyed the Baguettes with our Japanese style Bouillabaisse.

 No Frills Baguettes

 Roughing it Crumb


I think that sometimes we are too dependent on non-essential gadgets. It goes to show that we can make great bread with good ingredients, our hands and the most rudimentary utensils.


My friend Barbara was so excited about the results that once she got home, she decided to make a batch of baguettes on her own and she sent me these photos.

 Barbara's Outstanding Baguettes

 Barbara's Amazing Baguette Crumb

I would say that she graduated from Baguette 101 Magna Cum Laude!




Floydm's picture

Nice job, Barbara and Don!   Both batches look wonderful.  One would never know you weren't playing on your home court.

dmsnyder's picture

Having struggled with bread baking away from my home oven and other toys, I'm in awe of your results.

And that Barbara is either a natural, or she had a gifted instructor.


ehanner's picture

That must be a good feeling for you, helping Barbara to learn this method. She did such a good job with hers you must be a good instructor and inspirational too.

Friends on vacation with fresh bread and seafood, what could be better?


DonD's picture

Floyd, David and Eric, I appreciate your kind comments and I am sure Barbara does too. She has an innate sense of feel for dough in general that is evident in her fantastic home made pasta.


chouette22's picture

I enjoyed this post! And love bouillabaisse! But what is bouillabaisse Japanese style?

DonD's picture

This Neo-Japanese version of Bouillabaisse is from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The soup base in addition to Fish Stock has Red Miso, Korean Chili and Sake in lieu of Saffron, Rouille and Pernod. I still prefer the Marseilles version though.


dosidough's picture

Desription of a great vacation. Close friends playing, sharing and exchanging experience. Sounds like a wonderful time. And all those gadgets reminds me of how Susan likes to keep it simple. (Yes David...the chopsticks secret!)

Beautiful baguettes. So can we look forward to seeing Barbara"s introduction here at TFL soon?

Bake on...


(I'm gonna try and Google that Bouillabaisse recipe)

DonD's picture

The bread turned out so well with just the basic utensils that next year I will insist that we only bring the basic utensils for cooking as well!

I am trying to talk Barbara into joining the TFL community but I think she wants to hone her skills some more.

The Morimoto Bouillabaisse is on the web. If you do try it, let us know how you like it.


SylviaH's picture

and Barbara!  Barbara is a natural and the whole experience sounded like so much fun.  Just goes to show you how much you can accomplish when your having a good time!  Thanks for sharing! 

I must have bleeped out my first post here : /


DonD's picture

It was a lot of fun indeed. We go on vacation with Barbara and her husband Jeff twice a year, to the Outer Banks in the Fall and to the Shenandoah Mountains in the Spring to collect Edible Wild Mushrooms. We always have a great time and eat and drink very well!


wally's picture

Don, those are gorgeous - all the more so since you were working outside your kitchen!  Kudos!

As for Barbara, god help us if she ever gets serious about baguettes - the scoring and crumb no way look like those of a novice.


DonD's picture

Barbara is not a complete novice. She has made Boules, Ciabatta and Crocodile Bread before so she knows how to handle dough. I just gave her a tutorial on the techniques to make baguettes that I had learned over the past year through TFL.

She is ready now to spread the gospel as her friends are lining up learn baguette techniques from her.