Fragrant mussels and Moroccan Vin Boulaouane and hours later homemade baguettes with a recipe

IMG_0171So there we were on the balcony with a glass of cold Vin Boulaouane, a Moroccan Vin Gris, a rosé, which although it hasn’t got brilliant ratings online, I found out later,  was a perfect match for the mussels. Nice crisp, light rosé not at all sweet, with a little bite to it. And you have to admit the bottle is pretty. And experimental buy which I would repeat. And while we sipped and enjoyed the fresh melon, crisp green salad and simply prepared mussels – thanks to being able to pop across the border to France to buy seafood we have a limitless supply of fresh mussels, cockles, shrimps, salmon, octopus etc, I  thought – we really should have some baguette to soak up the lovely mussel juices with and of course all I had was pita bread, which was fine, but not as good as  a baguette would have been.

So, naively thinking baguettes would be fast and easy to make, I dug through my cookbook collection, found what I was looking for in William Sonoma’s Essentials of Baking and started the dough at 2pm. Instructions below are how I implemented the recipe. I left some things out, but the baguettes seem to have come out fine!

It’s not hard but it does take time. Total time: around 7 hours 30 minutes from start to removing the hot loaves from the oven, active time:  around 40 minutes the rest is waiting and proving.  It’s now 11pm and 3 baguettes have exited the oven. Not ready for fattoush, baba ganoush and rice dinner either unfortunately, ah well. But they do look nice. It was a lengthy process, which is fine if you can toddle in and out of the kitchen while working on other stuff. Here is the photo-documentary:

Step 1: ACTIVE You start out with a “sponge”10 minutes mix 2 cups bread flour + 1 package or 2 and a 1/2 tsps active dried yeast 1 teaspoon malt syrup ( I threw mine out yesterday in a cleaning up activity very prescient…. so had to make do with 1 tsp sugar) 1 1/2 cups of warm water (105°F-115°F or 40° to 46° C – as proteins generally do badly above 42°C I stuck with warm water that was not so hot I couldn’t stick my fingers in.

Step 2: PAUSE Sponge phase: 3 hours mix all ingredients together with a wooden spoon and then cover the sponge with plastic wrap. Let stand at cool room temp for 3 hours, you can also put it into the fridge, but then you need to leave it at room temperature for an hour before going to the next step. After 3 hours it looked like this:

IMG_0173Step 3 ACTIVE Making the dough: 10 minutes Add 2 cups bread flour, 1 and 1/2 tsps salt and add to the sponge until a soft dough forms. Knead on floured work surface until dough smooth and elastic 5-7 excruciatingly meditative minutes. Which is when you get this:IMG_0174

Step 4:  PAUSE: You let it sit for 1 1/2 hours at which point it rewards you by bulking up:

IMG_0178You are now making serious progress about 5 hours into the endeavour!

Step 5: ACTIVE 5 minutes punch the dough down

Step 6: PAUSE and let it sit for another 45 minutes covered with plastic wrap.

Step 7ACTIVE 5 minutes At the end of this time you can turn it onto a work surface and cut into thirds. You shape these into balls:

IMG_0179Step 8: PAUSE cover with a dish cloth and let them rest for 5 minutes

Step 9: ACTIVE 10 minutes knead the dough, work the dough and shape it into an oval loaf then form into a long baguette shaped bread that will fit your baking sheet


Step 10: PAUSE 45 minutes place loaves on baking tray cover with dish cloth and let stand for 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 500°F (260°C)

IMG_0183Step 11: PAUSE and bake slash with a serrated knife, mist with water place in the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes

Step 12: PAUSE Let the loaves cool before digging in, Sonoma says, eat fresh, considering its 11pm this will have to wait.



11 thoughts on “Fragrant mussels and Moroccan Vin Boulaouane and hours later homemade baguettes with a recipe

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful meal, Polianthus! And you did a great job turning out 3 baguettes, even though it took you all day. 🙂 I really enjoy bread making but haven’t gone into it in depth, precisely because the process takes so long. But one of these days, I’m going to devote an entire day to it. There are a couple of recipes I’d like to try.

    • lovely meal – the whole day was definitely too long, but the result is great. I have never had such a good home made bread. The crumb is fine, the exterior crusty and its fluffier than anything I have made before.
      So overall I must say it was worth it!

  2. the whole meal looks beautiful– so impressed with your bread!! (my favorite food good bread and sweet buyer)– thanks for the fun post!

  3. Dear Rhonda, thank you SO much, good bread is definitely wonderful, I never had the patience before but now I see what a difference hours and hours of proving make I will continue on this path!

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