Gourmet bread: Banh mi-baguette

You can’t beat this for a gourmet treat at home. It is way more than just a sandwich so perfect to impress a visiting lunch guest.

To get the perfect sandwich baguette right is more difficult than you might think, but if you follow this recipe exactly you should be able to pull it off.

The extra-fine T55 flour – from specialist suppliers or online – means that the bread will get both a light and airy texture, and the steaming will give it a thin but crispy crust. So don’t take any shortcuts. 

Recipe from The Ultimate Sandwich which include 100 classic sandwiches from Reuben to Po'Boy and everything in between (Pavilion, $34.99). 

Ingredients:

2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
350ml/1½ cups tepid water
540g/4½ cups extra-fine wheat flour (T55 flour), plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Mix together yeast and water straight in the dough mixer bowl. Add the flour, salt and sugar and run for about 2 minutes until the dough is smooth. Knead the dough for double the time if you are doing it by hand. Shape the dough into a ball, put back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm or a lid and leave to rise for about 1 hour until the dough has nearly doubled in size.
  2. Flour the back of your hand and knock back the poor dough to squeeze all air out of it. Cover with clingfilm again and leave to rise for another hour. Knock back and leave to rise one more time.
  3. Take out the dough and place on a floured worktop. Divide into two. Form the baguettes by pressing them out to a (very rough) rectangle, about 10 × 2cm/4 × 8in, and fold the upper and lower long edges so they meet in the centre. Squeeze the seam together and roll the dough into a long thin sausage, about 30cm long.
  4. Transfer the baguettes to a baguette tray (or a standard tray) and make sure that the seam is facing downwards. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a spray bottle with water and preheat the oven to 220°C, and place a deep oven dish filled with water at the bottom of the oven – the steam is there so make sure the right crispy crust appears. So don’t skip this step.
  5. After 30 minutes make cuts in the baguettes using a very sharp knife or a shaving blade – three diagonal cuts for a po’boy and one long cut for a banh mi. Spray the breads 4–6 times with the water and then bake in the oven for 25 minutes in total. After 3 minutes, open carefully and spray with water, leave to bake for a further 3 minutes, after which you open and spray one more time. After a total of 20 minutes, or until they’ve started colour nicely, take out the breads and loosen them from the baguette tray. Pop them back in the oven upside-down and bake for 5 minutes so that the bottom gets crispy too.
  6. Take out and leave to rest. They’re absolutely perfect after 30 minutes. If you wait longer you’ll have to warm them up in the oven again to achieve maximum crunch.

Tips:

Also try this delicious gourmet Pan Bagnat sandwich and make it's Sicillan Loaf recipe as well!