Oh, the elusive quality baguette in this U.S. of A. I have very strong feelings about this so please excuse me if this rant sounds harsh. I love the U.S. and I know how fortunate I am to be born in a country that provides the multitude of opportunities and the feeling of security and freedom that so many other people around the world do not have. Many amazing things have come from our shores from the assembly line to the iPhone.
So, in this great country I ask you, why can we not find a decent baguette in any grocery store, corner market, or bakery? Why? WHY??? You can go to Paris and pick up a perfect baguette on almost any street corner like we can pick up a Big Mac on almost any corner in the U.S. That is so sad. P.S. That baguette will be warm 99% of the time no matter what time of day you buy it. Morning, afternoon, night, it will be warm if not piping hot like it just came out of the oven. Incredible. Why doesn't Starbucks offer warm baguettes? They offer warm everything else. Why have they not figured this out? They are Starbucks! They can do anything. I would say the same about McDonald's but I'm too afraid that they would pump the baguette full of corn syrup and every other bad chemical on earth in order to make a profit.
So, given my above outlined baguette struggles (I know, I live a tough life), I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had a little more sympathy and understanding for bakeries after my first attempt and complete failure at making my own baguettes. Total disaster. Then I came across the Cook's Illustrated latest recipe for making great baguettes and once again, they have provided us with the recipe to beat all recipes. I had to add more flour (about 1/3 cup of unbleached white flour) to my batch than their recipe recommended because my dough was refusing to pull from the sides of the mixing bowl. I would highly recommend watching the video that accompanies their recipe, it helps. I watched that video a few times before I started mixing anything. This recipe also takes a few days, much patience, and some special tools. If you are as fanatical about baguettes as I am, this is all totally worth it. Crunch on the outside and and warm bread with many holes on the inside. They were as close to an authentic french baguette as I have ever tasted on American land.