Thursday, May 31, 2012


I was reading something somewhere that gave me the idea to attempt to make my own Vietnamese baguettes. I remember how much I loved the french bread I ate when I visited Vietnam years ago, so I did a little Internet research to find a recipe. There were a lot of recipes to choose from, but ultimately, I selected one that was actually written in Vietnamese (someone had provided a translation in the comments section).
Baguette Ingredients:
  • 1 cup warm water (100F-110F)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2.5 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2¾ cups to 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 tbsp melted butter + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Bit of diluted salt water for glazing the surface
  • Add warm water + sugar + yeast into a bowl (large enough to hold contents; see next step); stir to dissolve; let yeast rise about 10 minutes.
  • Add 2¾ cups flour + vegetable oil + salt into yeast bowl (as described in step above); stir evenly; knead dough; while kneading, if dough is still sticky soft, then add remaining flour little by little until enough (this is the purpose of the extra ¼ cup flour; the flour is added bit by bit so that the stickiness of the dough can be gauged); continue to knead the dough until it is smooth, satiny, and elastic enough. Transfer the dough ball into a container already greased with a thin layer of vegetable oil; turn the dough in the container to ensure that the entire ball is covered with a layer of oil (so the dough won’t dry out while rising); cover completely and put in a warm place for 1 hour for the dough to double in size.
  • Use a fist to lightly punch the dough down, then knead the dough about 3-5 minutes; cover again to let the dough rest for 15 minutes (disregard this stage if there’s not much time, but the dough still needs to be punched down before removing it).
  • Remove the dough ball; squeeze and divide into 3 parts; roll the dough into small balls and let them rest 5-10 more minutes.
  • Remove the dough; thinly roll it flat then fold/roll gently into long rolls; eyeball the shape and adjust as desired => put dough onto tray and cover with dishtowel or plastic wrap; let rise for another 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 460F; place on the bottom rack 1 empty tray (and prepare ¾ cup of boiling water).
  • When oven is almost ready, use a knife to cut slits on top of the dough => brush a thin layer of salt water on top of the dough => put tray with dough on the middle rack of the oven, then quickly pour 1 cup of boiling water into the empty tray already sitting on the bottom rack; close oven door immediately so that the steam can’t escape (by this time, the oven temperature should be as preset).
  • Bake for about 18 minutes; when the surface turns golden then it’s ready. Remove the bread; immediately brush on top 1 layer of melted butter (don’t brush on too much or the bread will pucker & it won’t be crispy).
Now, I thought I had failed miserably after the firt hour, the dough hadn't risen, and after reading about making yeast breads in the Betty Crocker cookbook, I believed that I may have killed my yeast by using water that was too hot (135-140°F). I gave the dough more time (another hour, this time in a 100°F oven) and it started to rise!
But, it looks like the damage was done, because after I baked the "bread," it was flat as a pancake! I need to try this recipe again and watch the temperature of the water more closely.

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