Cooking diary #4 – Baguettes and Other Stories

I lost interest in this entry but decided to go back because I want to write something BECAUSE I got stuck while writing something else (a certain you-know-who knows that you-know-what).

What’s next on the menu? Baguettes. French breads, something that I can’t claim I ever taste its truthfulness. But no problem, as long as it tastes good then I don’t care whether I make the true French bread or not.

As long as it tastes good, which, so far, it doesn’t.

The magic baguette recipe requires only flour, water, sugar, salt and of course, yeast. Nothing more. As easy as it should be, it turned out quite a task.

The previous soft buns recipe, when doing right, makes very nice, non-sticky dough. Very stretchy and soft too, a pleasure to handle. I expected the same for baguette dough.

For the record, I don’t think I’m doing it right, but whatever. The dough is very sticky, and requires constant flouring to keep it from sticking to the counter and my hands. The first time I made baguette, I unknowingly threw my full hands into the bowl of dough. Eww.

Kneading would solve the problem, or so I thought. But so far it doesn’t do well. The dough becomes less sticky but it isn’t stretchy and smooth. AND THE PROBLEM IS I DON’T KNOW HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO FEEL!!!

Shaping is another issue. Too much outer flouring and you end up with a wrinkle surface. Too little and the dough sticks to your hand, ruining the shape. You also have to slash the dough, which is called “scoring”, with a sharp razor, knife or lame. And then there’s baking which requires a bowl of water put inside the oven to create steam for a hard crust, which is a big problem for a small oven owner like me. And the story goes on and on. We’re having a mess here.

The bread tastes okay the moment it leaves the oven. But leave it for awhile and it becomes soft rocks: hard and chewy at the same time.

They say the quality of flour you use affects the quality of your bread (obviously). I don’t think the bread flour I’m using is of very good quality (but it’s cheap, and it comes in a zipper-ready bag, so…). But like a good girl, I’m not blaming the flour for my failure. Not entirely.

The second batch I made more baguette-like shape. Again, it’s edible but not really something I’d consider “good”.

Actually, I’m not that interested in French bread in the beginning. I want to make Vietnamese bread with crunchy crust and airy, almost hollow, crumb. But since there is not Vietnamese bread recipe, I thought I’d try things out with baguette first. Haiz.

Googling around and there are suggestions that replace bread flour with all-purpose flour. Some even uses a mix of all-purpose flour and cake flour for a lighter dough. I will give that a try later. More reports to come.

As for other stories, well, I got myself a can of Hershey’s cocoa from a friend of mine, but haven’t moved around to bake a cake (got totally lost in the bread thing now). The first thing in line is a red velvet cake, but the ingredients for the frosting (cream-cheese and Mascarpone cheese) really pain my fragile pocket. I don’t have a good history of success with frosting either, so I kinda shy away from that. Still waiting for a big motivation for this one.

And there’s the swiss roll with custard cream, which I haven’t tried again after the last failure.

I remember I have other stories to tell but like always, if I don’t get the words out fast enough they’ll vanish.

Or maybe I actually don’t want to tell those anymore. Who knows. As much as I love ambiguity, sometimes it gets the best of me and makes me forget what’s real and what’s not.

Of course, don’t take the above line seriously. This writing thing can get you into exaggeration without you knowing it. See how people get so sentimental and emotional with the written words and not the spoken ones (except Shakespeare I guess). It’s so much easier to mask your tone when you’re not making a sound for it. No wonder the most romantic people are those who write (I’m talking about writers and poets here).

Bad liars too.


Cooking diary #4 – Baguettes and Other Stories

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