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There’s no denying it, a good baguette is difficult to make and is often best left to the experts. I have never made one I was happy enough with, so I congratulate those doing a good job. A French tradition which goes back to the 19th century, it has become one of France’s emblems and the European in us has embraced it. Characterised by its long shape, the top is slashed with a curved blade and the result is the typical open scars on an ideally crunchy, golden crust. Inside the crumb should be soft and light and have uneven holes/bubbles in it. A little stretchy, it should be able to be torn apart with the hands. It should have nothing in it but flour, yeast, water and salt, so no sweetness. The flavour should be enough not to require anything but a little butter or olive oil to satisfy. A good baguette takes time to make, with proving time to allow the texture and flavour to develop. Short cuts result in heavy crumb. In France a baguette will keep no more than half a day, but will freeze well, so cut in half and freeze if necessary. We looked around Cork to see who produced the best baguette. Here are our results.
Arbutus Breads, 400g €2.90
Good crunchy, golden crust, open texture, great flavour. Just as it should be.
From country markets and selected shops. arbutusbread.com for stockists.
ABC 590g €2.50
Good, open texture, nice toffeeish crust, good depth of flavour. A good buy.
Hassett’s Bakery, 320g €1.95
This ‘tradition’ baguette is one of two available. This one uses sourdough as is traditional for this type and delivers a good, open texture, good flavour, with a slightly toffee-like crust. Good value. From The Wholy Grain Washington Street, Cork, and Hassetts of Adelaide St and Carrigaline shops.
Lidl, 440g 75c
Baked in house, lacking a crunchy crust, texture has some holes but still too dense. Not light enough to impress.
Supervalu, 350g €1
Smooth crust with no slashes, with a dense, even textured crumb, not like the real thing, but not as heavy as some other samples
Tesco, 460g €1
Soft crust, dense and heavy inside. No variation of texture. Not close enough to the real thing.
Dunnes, 420g 75c
Crust is not developed and is chewy instead of crunchy. Heavy crumb.
Marks & Spencer, 480g €1.79
With the heaviest texture of samples, this has a soft crust, and overall it was lacking in flavour
Pic taken at Barron’s Bakery Cappoquin by Arna Runarsdottir for Our Daily Bread, a history of Barron’s bakery. http://www.onstream.ie