The art of a fine French baguette is not to be sniffed at. When properly done, a fresh-from-the-oven loaf can entice with its aroma alone, seducing us further with its brittle, crisp crust and fluffy crumb. Excellent simply eaten as is, or with a slick of salted butter (as we prefer), it is no wonder that the humble baguette has become such an iconic item in the French repertoire.
In the video above, we met up with master baker Eric Kayser in his Ap Lei Chau bread making headquarters to learn the secret behind the classic French bread. The secret to his loaves lies in the liquid levain, a fermented starter that gives his creations their signature flavour and texture. Kayser developed and patented the Fermento Levain, the breakthrough machine that continuously churns and nurtures liquid levain in his bakeries.
Like a true Frenchman, Kayser treats his dough with utmost respect, almost to the point of giving it its own personality. To him, making bread is a worthy effort. “Many people now go back to making this kind of product with their hands,” he says. “Sometimes we say that we give our energy to the dough with our hands.”
Kayser’s baguette recipe requires that the dough ferments for two, or even three hours. It’s a slow process, but the result will always be more satisfying than a cold supermarket loaf.
Ingredients (makes 10 baguettes)
2kg strong white bread flour
10g dry yeast
1.2-1.3 litres water