Saturday, September 25, 2010

La baguette

Few images are as quintessentially French as the baguette. When I buy a baguette I always get a jaunty Frenchness to my step, and feel quite chic when I break a piece off at home. But invariably I eat some, enjoy, eat a bit more, get full and then leave the rest to go hard overnight.

I have decided to make the baguette a more regular part of my life, as I always feel more stylish breaking up a chunk than pulling a slice of square bread out of a plastic bag. What I do now is:

a) buy the baguette (yes I could learn to make them like Anne Barone does, but my breadmaking has turned out a little doughy for my taste so baking them is for another day when I’m in the mood to experiment) and then,
b) slice into 10cm/4 inch pieces.

The baguettes I most recently bought had exactly six per loaf. I then freeze them in a ziplock bag (after enjoying that day’s piece fresh). The day I want a piece I take it from the freezer, either in the morning, or at a pinch half an hour before I want it. They thaw very quickly at room temperature and if you’ve frozen them on the day of purchase they taste almost as good.

I have mostly been having them for lunch, either as is alongside a complete (‘with protein’) salad or split in half and both flat sides covered in something if having a side salad (raw veges and salad ingredients, no protein).

Two ‘somethings’ I have enjoyed lately are:

1 egg, hardboiled and fork mashed with a small dollop of Best Foods light mayo and capers, or
1 small portion of cold roast-chicken, cut up fine and mixed with the same small dollop of Best Foods light mayo and finely diced raw celery.

Top with a crunch of black pepper

It’s nice to have the bread always handy, and even though the portions seem to have shrunk since I cut them (and I thought to myself ‘should I have two?’) I have only ever had the one piece, and never thought afterwards ‘I’m still hungry’. I’m always perfectly sated. Portion control! It works!

The other night when I reheated the rest of my pasta bake and served it with a salad dressed with equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (aka ‘the lazy dressing), my husband, whose favourite thing in the world is bread but doesn’t have it often said, ‘do you have some bread in the freezer?’ When I placed the baguette down in front of him (resisting saying ‘Et voila) he remarked that our table looked very Italian, and that the bread in the picture looked like it completed the meal.

If I was Sabine, living in my Paris apartment, with a boulangerie on the corner which I passed each night on my way home from the Metro station, then I would buy a half-baguette and eat it fresh. I can pretend that’s me when I have my piece of baguette with lunch and it actually has made me feel more chic all day.

That’s what it’s about for me, adding in little touches of chic Frenchness to my life, and this in turn encourages me to act chicly (in all ways, not just with food).


  1. I've bought baquettes before but since it doesn't keep well and I didn't want to waste it, I haven't bought one in a long time.

    This is a great idea that I'm going to have to try. Thanks!

  2. Fiona,

    Another great way to treat frozen baguettes is to place them, unthawed in a 450 degree oven for 10-12 minutes...They come out crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside just as if they were fresh baked!

  3. I love fresh bread! I've been buying the 99 cent small loaves of french boule bread at whole foods and freeze a couple for the week to use. I always have fresh bread and it tastes just fine if I freeze it right away.

  4. Fiona, How true about the baguette. We live in a land much like Italy. One can stop and pick up baguette on the way home. It is not the same as the corner boulangerie however, but almost as fulfilling. I will now take small portions and freeze them instead of opting out. Very bodeci, mia!

  5. What a great plan to cut it and freeze it for later...I use hard baguette to make croutons for caesar salad.

    Your new eating regime sounds veru healthy.

  6. Fiona,

    I was just thinking about this very topic earlier this week. I love to buy baguettes also. And living in the Bay Area, we have access to incredible sourdough baguettes. But they never get eaten in their entirety and much of it goes to our chickens.

    Last year, I took French classes at Alliance Francaise. One day, during intermission, our class of four students asked our French instructor where he buys his baguettes. Thinking that he must know about some fantastic hidden gem of a bakery, we waited anxiously for him to reveal his secret. He told us he buys baguettes at Trader Joe's and freezes them.
    Now that I have also heard this trick from you, I'll finally have to try it myself!

  7. Alas, no baguettes here. In Florida we had Cuban bread - oh how I sometimes crave it! I've been tempted to try Mme. Barone's recipe and now might give it a try soon, when I'm feeling brave.

  8. Eurochic, thanks for the reheating tip.

    Hostess, croutons are a good idea for baguettes thought to be beyond redemption.

  9. Like Cherie, we have no source for baguettes here in our little town but whenever I have the opportunity to visit Whole Foods (the nearest is 2 hours away) I always buy one. Next time I will buy a few and freeze them. Thanks for the suggestion.

  10. What a great idea! I would have never thought of this. And you're exactly right. When purchasing a freshly baked baquette, I feel a bit more cultured. :) Lovely post. I do enjoy stopping by. My apologies for it being so long. I hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend.

  11. Wow! Great tip. I buy fresh baguettes here in Spain, but never thought to freeze them.

  12. hi fiona,

    i like your idea about the baguette. genius, ours are rarely in the house more than 24 hrs.

    being vegan, bread is an important source of protein for us as are veggies so we eat them with reckless abandon.


  13. Janet, have I been fed carnivorous propaganda all these years that bread is all carbs and no protein? This morning I had toast and butter for breakfast and felt naughty that I wasn't including protein.

  14. Well, it depends on if you think 1 to 3 grams of protein is significant but sure, it adds to the daily quantity (whole wheat breads have more protein than plain white). Most vegetables only have between 1 and 3 grams per serving, too, whereas a 4 oz. serving of poultry has about 28 grams. I'm currently eating vegetarian so I'm not pushing the consumption of meat, just sharing. Btw, I found some interesting information about French bread. Be sure to read the comments as some of them are more enlightening than the original post.

  15. Deanna, thanks for the info. The bread forum is really interesting, and funny.

  16. In Louisiana, USA, we call a baguette French Bread. My friend who visits annually from France told me there was nothing French about this bread. We enjoy it anyway. When it is stale we simply cut or break it into chunks about one inch square and cover it with an egg, sugar and milk mixture and then bake it. We call it bread pudding. It is delicious topped with a whiskey sauce made of bourbon, butter and water.

  17. Dot, I adore bread pudding! My recipe is adapted from the one I got at the New Orleans School of Cooking and everyone raves about it. Yes, it's the best thing to do with stale bread. ;) Btw, if you are ever in New Orleans, La Boulangerie on Magazine Street is an excellent bakery and the owner is from France.

  18. Deanna, thank for letting me know a about the New Orleans bakery. I do go to New Orleans quite frequently and love the Magazine street shopping.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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