I love French bread. I have loved this bread ever since I was a little girl, way before I ever stepped foot in France. My mum always bought it from Ikeja, anytime she was doing business in the area. When we finally moved to Ikeja, it was one of the consolation points, because we loved our old house so much. Anybody who grew up in an around Opebi Road, Allen Avenue, Toyin, GRA, Ogba, will definitely remember Big Treat bread. The queue for that bread was insane. People queued for hours, and the breads will be off the shelves faster than the bakers could drop them. Whenever you are in the area, the aroma wafting from Big Treat supermarkets was unmistakable. Their bakery was famous in the area. People who didn’t live in Ikeja came from far and wide just to buy their bread. If you go there shortly after Christland School had closed for the day, you will queue till your legs hurt. We who lived in the area, used to be so irritated about it. It wasn’t cheap either, but it disappeared very fast in people’s homes. Their cakes too were an absolute delight. Take any child to Big Treat, and be prepared to leave your wallet open. They were the first confectionery to open on Allen Avenue before TFC moved in, followed by Sweet Sensation. I hope this is bringing back memories for some of you. Shout out to all Ikeja babies whether you lived or schooled there. I lived off Allen Avenue, a walking distance from Big Treat Confectionaries. My parents still live there.
Right beside Big Treat it is Osata supermarket and they sell the most beautiful Vienna sausages and every other yummy goodness you can think of. Planta margarine, Walls ice cream, bacon, hot dogs, smoked chicken, luxury chocolates, frozen fish, seafood, you name it Osata stocked it. Most of our breakfast items came from both stores. Gosh, those were the days. Once Mummy calls the landline to find out if there is still bread at home and we say no, we drop whatever we are doing and just sit by the door like puppies waiting for mama to come home. This was one of the times Mummy did not need to honk her horn more than once. We all came flying outside screaming Mummy, Mummy, falling over ourselves to get her bags, and rushing back inside.
As always she will raise her voice loudly enough to say, it is meant only for breakfast, I am going to make dinner shortly. We will then turn back to her with our sad puppy eyes saying please, please, please mummy, just a little. Then she will smile with the words okay, okay, I bought an extra loaf, just because I know you hungry mongrels will have at it before breakfast. It was a dance that repeated itself so often, it always elicited the same reaction, but sometimes she had to put her foot down because Big Treat only allowed each person to buy 2 maximum just so it could go round. We were not happy bunnies on those days. Lol.
Gosh, lots and lots of memories surrounding bread. I ate good bread so much, no wonder it is one my favourite things to eat. On the back of being succesful with making bread twice (recipe HERE and HERE), I decided to take on one of the most iconic parts of my childhood. The French Baguette. I looked at a couple of recipes and groaned in misery, until I found this video from Food Wishes with one of the funniest voice overs ever. Chef John is such a hoot. It was such a blessing that the recipe is sooooooooooooooo easy, it is ridiculous. You don’t need any gadget, no prior experience with making bread. If there was no video, I wouldn’t have believed it, but alas he wasn’t telling lies. This is the Real McCoy and I am happy to bring this to you. This truly is a wish come true for me.
This recipe makes 4 small baguette or 2 Large ones. Please get your weighing scale out for this, it is highly important.
You will need
- it is a no knead recipe, how cool is that?
- you don’t need to “wake up the yeast”, which gave me high BP the very first time I baked bread, phew.
- you don’t even need warm water, room temperature water is okay.
- you don’t even need bread flour. All purpose is okay.
- you don’t need an egg wash too, just water wash.
WHAT!!! Unbelievable you may be thinking, well here’s the recipe. So simple, only impossible if you don’t try it.
Caveat: You may be wondering why so many steps, well I am breaking this down to the barest details so you don’t have any problems when trying this recipe out. In general, the steps are not that many, each one will probably take you about a minute or so, but I know details help, especially with baking. You shouldn’t spend so much time making this at all, so don’t let the number of steps scare you.
1. Measure out the 1/4 teaspoon of yeast and the salt, then add to a mixing bowl
2. Measure out room temperature water carefully and pour into the bowl and stir. Remember, you don’t need this yeast to sit and froth or whatever.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: now, I feel I have to mention this. With this recipe, you don’t need warm water, you don’t need to wake up the yeast, but I believe if you are not sure if you yeast is still active, measure about a teaspoon of yeast, mix with warm water and a little sugar. If it is frothy after about 10minutes, then it means your yeast is fine. Don’t forget to THROW AWAY THAT MIXTURE. You don’t need it. Just revert back to the original recipe. I was using 7g sachets of yeast, so I knew my yeast was fine, but if you have yeast that comes in a big container and it has been open for a while, you may need this tip I just put down.
3. Add the flour and mix. At first, it is probably going to look like the dough will be too wet.