While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
Forget your morning bagel routine and start the day with a baguette; March 21 is National French Bread Day!
You'd know the signs of a good baguette anywhere: long, thin loaf, basic lean dough, soft heaven on the inside and a crisp, chewy crust on the outside. Gently crack it, and you'll know you've picked the right loaf by the sound it makes.
Although the shape of French baguettes are pretty standard and iconic, it's the dough that makes it so, especially according to French law. It sounds so simple: wheat flour, water, yeast and salt. But there are strict rules prohibiting preservatives, so the loaves must be baked every day.
Making the baguettes involves several steps. Free-form loaves involve the dough going through folding and rolling motions, then rising in cloth-lined baskets or beneath a flour-covered towel, and baked directly in a deck oven or slid into perforated pans that help the loaves hold their characteristic shape.
So ditch your usual morning routine and try a traditional French continental breakfast - spreading baguette slices with butter and jam alongside your coffee or hot chocolate. The crusty bread is also perfect for dipping in either.
Really want to impress your friends (and yourself)? Make your own French bread baguettes and you'll be exclaiming quel surprise at how talented you can be.
I have sweet, sweet childhood memories of breakfast during summer breaks on a sugar plantation in Puerto Rico where my grand-uncle was overseer. I would sit in a big wicker rocker on his front porch, still wrapped in my blanket, and my grand-aunt would bring me freshly-baked, fragrant french bread (bakery-delis were endemic on the island) anointed with sweet butter, a slice of Edam in my hand and a cup of cafe-au-lait seasoned with molasses. I would put the cheese in the coffee to let it melt into creamy gooeyness, dip the bread in and enjoy. AHHHH, to live that again...
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