After our quick introduction to yeast, one and two step breads, we jumped right into the French classic Baguettes. And if you’re going to learn how to make bread in NYC, who better to learn from than the classic Amy Scherber, owner of Amy’s Breads here in NYC.
While the recipes we had used for the earlier breads were written in such cryptic shorthand, Amy’s recipe for Baguettes was one of the most detailed recipes I had seen to date. After listing out almost a full page of ingredients, the Baguettes had 14 steps to follow with exact times of how long the dough should rest. One of the steps read like this: “Pour the salt on top of the dough, but do not mix. Allow the dough to rest for 12 minutes. Waiting to mix in the salt gives the flour time to absorb the water.” The previous bread recipes I had encountered were so vague, it was strangely comforting to have this level of detail in the recipe.
Along with traditional Baguette shapes, we also learned how to make an epi (French wheat branch) which can be seen in the photo above. To make it, you need to cut the dough at 45 degree angles and pull the cut piece to the side in order to create a wheat branch effect.
After struggling to form my first epi, my chef reminded me “Don’t be afraid to have your way with the dough”. And after showing my dough who was boss, my next epi’s came out looking much better.
After 2 days of forming baguettes, I’m sad to say, that although I come from a line of family bakers, I don’t think bread baking is my calling. I found myself dreading having to form one more baguette. Luckily for me, baguettes are over and coming up I’ll get to face braided doughs, bread sticks, pizza and focaccia.