Since returning from our holiday in Normandy I have been making a concerted effort to nail the baguette.
The nearest town (Tinchebray) had a supermarket but still retained 4 boulangeries along its high street. Despite our expectations the standard baguette was a bit of a let down. To make matters worse the "pain complet" was also light and airy and not a proper wholemeal loaf, more a generic British supermarket loaf. Then we realised that if you kept your eyes and ears open for "method traditionnel"or "pain au levain" there were good quality breads available.
To help me perfect my baguette on my return I added a couple of items to my batterie de cuisine. I already had the metal baguette tray on the right but (after seeing one in use on holiday) I now have acquired a linen "couche". It's just a thick cloth that you ruck up to make bed for the loaves when rising.
I've also tooled up with implements for slashing the loaf. Lames or grignettes: I'm onto my third and still not really happy about the results. It's really quite a knack to slash the bread without deflating it. The aerosol is for spraying the loaf with water to help crust formation.
The results? Well the two in the metal trays were suitably long and thin and crusty on top. The ones rested in the couche were gloriously irregular but light and crustier underneath (They were slid onto a hot heavy duty metal roasting tray).
Here's an interesting loaf we came accross in France. It's a brioche dough made into a full sized loaf. I love the decoration.