Roses are Red
Violets are Blue
I made this Crusty Baguette
Just for you!
My husband loves a Crusty Baguette. I love my husband. Hence Italian Love bread for Valentine’s Day. This is the easy way to make a homemade Crusty Baguette. The recipe uses the no-knead method. It requires 4 simple ingredients of flour, yeast, salt and water, and a warm, cosy place to rise. Shape the baguette dough into a heart and dust with sesame seeds on top for extra flavor. It can be made in 4 hours from start to finish. It makes a beautiful presentation. The house smells wonderful. Husband is happy.
Tip Number 1: Start with room temperature yeast and water at exactly 115 degrees
This is the key to getting a good rise on the dough. I use active dry yeast in packets and store them in the pantry. Do not store yeast in the refrigerator. One packet usually equals one teaspoon. Watch the expiration dates. The water must be between 112 degrees and 115 degrees to activate the yeast. Typically very hot water from the tap is sufficient but I strongly recommend using a digital thermometer.
Tip Number 2: Use bread flour for a chewier bread and crust
King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour has 12.7 % protein compared to a typical 10% protein content in standard all-purpose flour. The extra protein helps develop gluten resulting in a chewier and more elastic bread with better lift. Mix the bread flour, water, yeast and salt to form a shaggy dough. (Note King Arthur’s Unbleached All-Purpose Flour has a 11.7% protein content and would work too. Most other brands have the lower protein content).
Tip Number 3: Let the dough rise in a cold oven with the interior light on
Cover with saran wrap, a tea towel and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. On cold days or days with no sun, I place the covered dough in a cold oven with the interior light on. The warmth from the light is just enough to bloom the yeast. Rotate the bowl occasionally.
Tip Number 4: Snip and slash crevices in the dough before baking for extra crustiness
Form into long baguette loaf shapes. Snip on the side with scissors to form those desired crevices on the crust. Placed the loaves on a floured tea towel or baker’s couche. Cover and and let rise another hour in a warm place. Once the loaves are risen, slash the top with a sharp knife for more crevices.
Tip Number 5: Drop ice cubes in a screaming hot cast-iron skillet in the oven to create steam. This is the secret to making a crusty baguette.
Place a cast-iron skillet on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Form the two loaves into a heart shape and twist/tuck where the ends meet. Brush the top of the loaf with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place the bread in the oven, and drop a big handful of ice cubes in the hot skillet to create steam. Close the oven door and bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm with a high quality virgin olive oil for dipping and a bottle of 2007 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico DOC.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Italian Love Bread - Crusty Baguette for Valentine’s Day
- 3 ½ cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread flour or all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups warm 115 degrees
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast 1 packet
- 1 small egg
- 3 tablespoon water
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 12 + ice cubes for steaming in the oven
- Add warm water, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until combined. Add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and top with a tea towel. Place in a warm spot for 2 hours or until the dough as doubled in size. One option is to place the bowl in a cold oven with the interior light turned on. The small amount of warmth from the light will help the yeast bloom.
- Using your fist, punch down the dough, and let rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and cut in half. Gently roll and push each half into a long loaf shape equal in size and length. Using a kitchen scissor, snip about 5 cuts in the side of each loaf to create texture.
- Transfer the baguette to a floured baker’s couche or large cotton dish towel. Cover the loaves and let rise another hour.
- Pre-heat the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes. Place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack and let heat as well.
- Carefully place one loaf on a lightly floured baking sheet and form half a heart. Take second loaf and place it to form the opposite side of the heart. Twist the ends at the “V” and the bottom and tuck under to form one heart-shaped loaf. Make several slashes on the top of the loaf with a sharp knife down the middle.
- Whisk egg and water to create an egg wash. Brush on top of the heart bread. Sprinkle sesame seeds. Place the baking sheet with the bread in the oven on the middle rack. Add 6 -10 ice cubes to the hot skillet. They will create steam which helps create a crusty baguette.
- Add more ice cubes about halfway through the cooking.
- Cook for 30 minutes or until golden brown.