Okay, I’m done. I found the bread. The one I’ll make once a week for my entire life. I can now retire the BBA book and move on with my life. Well maybe I won’t quit the challenge but I’m pretty sure there won’t be a bread to top this one.

Not going to lie, I wasn’t excited about this. More often than not, baguettes get turned into croutons since we prefer sandwich-type bread or rolls. I finally decided that if I ever wanted to get to the fun breads at the end of the book I just needed to get started on the boring baguettes.

This bread is made with ice water and then you put it in the fridge to retard overnight. Weird, right? I had my doubts and was so shocked the next morning when my dough had almost doubled in size. I pulled it out to take the chill off and it just kept on rising.

There was a ton of dough! A ton of super sticky dough! This was enough dough to make 6 baguettes but since we aren’t huge fans, I decided to only make 3 baguettes and use the other 3 portions as pizza dough.

(It was rainy yesterday. Sorry for the poor pictures!)

The dough was very easy to shape since it’s supposed to look rustic. I just gently pulled until it was the length of my baking sheet and ignored the funky shapes. Once they were shaped they didn’t need another rise which I thought was strange. I swear I read the instructions 20 times just to make sure I wasn’t overlooking a rise somewhere.

This bread called for the hearth baking method which I’m starting to enjoy. Not the spraying of the oven walls but I think I’m starting to appreciate what hearth baking does for the bread.

As I mentioned, this is easily the best bread I’ve ever made. I thought it was almost identical to baguettes Panera has but my husband said it was even better. Yeah, that good. Just look at this:

I’ve never seen a prettier crumb.

I wasn’t, however, a huge fan of the dough as pizza crust. It was tough to roll out – I had to let it rest after every roll it seemed. Plus, it took a very long time to brown and crisp and I finally gave up after all my veggies started burning. I’ve got 2 more portions in the freezer so I’ll pre-bake the crust next time. Hopefully that will solve the problem.

If you don’t own the Bread Baker’s Apprentice book, you should check it out. If you do own it, turn to page 191 and get started on this bread. Be sure to check out the BBA blogroll to see how the other baker’s are doing!

This post submitted to Yeastspotting.

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