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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

French Baguettes

I had planned to write my inaugural post about the French tendency to lie, which, I swear, is not an ungrounded slur. I have sources; I have citations. And bashing the French would have been a great way to get links from right-wing warbloggers! But alas, there's too much material for one post.

So instead, here's a tip about how to bake French baguettes, and other artisinal bread. Every baking book will tell you: if you want a crispy crust on your baguettes, you need steam in your oven. Says the books, there are two ways to get steam in the oven: using a plant mister, or with a pan of boiling water. Says the experts, though, the mister doesn't provide enough water, and the pan method requires several extra steps.

The pan method: use a small cast-iron skillet (which retains heat). Preheat the oven, skillet inside, to its highest temperature, for an hour. Next, put the bread in, and pour boiling water into the skillet. It will produce enough steam to create a crispy, glossy crust on your baguette.

Why THEY won't tell you this. Because it's a little dangerous. You can burn yourself with the steam. You can crack the window of your oven. You can crack your cast-iron skillet or even cause it to explode if you use cold water. So you have to come to Ragout to get the real scoop. Or you could have gone to a King Arthur Flour seminar, which is where I heard about this method, or read about it on an internet baking site. So, remember, if this method results in third degree burns on your forearms, sue them, not me!

Coming next: why this post proves that trial lawyers and government regulations are oh so bad, bad, bad. Link to me, right-wing bloggers!

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