Based in North Carolina, USA, Cognitive Buffer is a blog by Brian Downs. His posts reimagine ideas, discover hidden nuances, and analyze phenomena that may have not been obvious at first glance.

Maker Monday #1:  Baguettes

Maker Monday #1: Baguettes

Cognitive Buffer celebrates process, defined here as slowing down and appreciating the steps needed to achieve a goal. The journey is as important as the destination. In our fast-paced world, it is easy to forget to stop and engage with the present.  

I have always gravitated toward DIY projects. Last week I joined our local “Maker Space”, a co-op where members create and learn from one another. Creative tools include a woodshop, a metal shop, a 3-D printer, and a laser cutter.

Going forward, I will chronicle process-heavy experiences with Maker Monday blog posts.

The first Maker Monday post outlines a Making experience in my own kitchen:  19-hour baguettes. We very much enjoyed baguettes during our family’s trip to Paris last November. They are delicious with cheese and a good wine. Then, a friend recently introduced me to this recipe which fits perfectly with the deliberate, process-oriented Cognitive Buffer ethos. As a bonus, children can actively participate!

The history of the baguette in France is speculative. One legend has it that baguettes rose to prominence in France during the Napoleonic Wars. The soldiers needed a portable food source, and the stiff loaves of bread with pointed ends could be easily shoved into their boots and then taken out when they needed a quick energy boost. At any rate, the simplicity of the modern-day recipe is undisputed. The only four ingredients should be water, flour, yeast, and salt.

The key to baking baguettes is to give the yeast time to work. Yeast feeds on sugars in the flour. When clumps of yeast cells accumulate, they crowd out their food source and dough ceases to rise. As the dough is kneaded and flattened, yeast then comes back into contact with flour and the dough begins to rise again. I followed the recipe in the link above from King Arthur faithfully. See photos of the baking process here:

After completion, gently pushing on the sides of the loaf gave a faint crunching sound while hinting at the chewy goodness inside. We had them with fig spread, cheese, creamed honey, and a nice Bordeaux. Approximate cost per baguette:  50 cents!

Tips from a neophyte baker:  

  1. We kneaded the dough by hand. When kneading dough, remember to grease your hands.  This is probably not a news flash for any of you who have EVER baked anything before - but it was for me!

  2. Use a mixing bowl with a wide top for the starter and dough. This allows room for your hands to knead.

  3. We placed the baguettes on the oven rack that was third from the bottom of the oven.  This resulted in an even doneness circumferentially. Note that our oven has one heating element at the top.

  4. Work backward when calculating time to completion.  In other words, first decide when you want to enjoy your baguettes.  Then subtract approximately 19 hours to determine when to assemble the starter.

Out for Blood

Out for Blood

Be Prepared

Be Prepared