On Sundays, the family likes me to bake Lenora Peterson’s Magelby’s Rolls for dinner. And who can blame them? Rich with butter and eggs, slathered in mayonnaise, and rolled in parmesan cheese, these have been the best dinner rolls I have ever made. But they call for instant yeast, so whenever I bake them I feel conflicted.
I have an aversion to baker’s yeast, I am sure the kids can’t tell, but the flavor is not pleasant to my palette. So for months, I have been trying to get sourdough rolls that could compare. I got close with my Brioche Rolls, but still, I want more basic ingredients (no eggs, no milk, no butter). After all, “Three Perfect Ingredients” is the mantra at Abigail’s Oven–flour, water, and salt, along with the starter, which is just flour and water. That is three perfect, simple ingredients.
Last Sunday I think I finally did it. I studied and adapted these two recipes:
King Arthur’s “Classic Baguettes.” At the end of their recipe, it pointed toward making an épi de blé, which is a way to cut up a baguette into individual serving-sized pieces. (You can see how this is done near the end of this post.)
Together these may have solved the roll problem, but not until I slathered the tops with garlic mayonnaise and sprinkled the tops with parmesan cheese, Magelby’s style.
Cheese Encrusted Sourdough Baguette Recipe made with Sourdough Bread Crumbs
(This recipe yield 4-5 baguettes)
To begin I had some old bread that needed to be used up, and I wanted to see if it helped the flavor. Most baguettes seem quite plan to me, but adding old-bread crumbs was one of the best flavor decisions I have made in a long time.
In this recipe, replace fifteen percent of the flour with dry crumbs from old bread. To make the crumbs, cut up a quarter of a boule into one-inch cubes. I ground them in a Blendtech Blender, but a food processor would work even better, they just need to be quite fine. I left them out overnight to completely dry out on a sheet of parchment. They were ready for this recipe in the morning.
Then on a well-floured surface, divide the dough into four equal portions.
Round each into a rough ball by pulling edges into the center.
Bench rest them for 15 minutes (and up to an hour).
At this point in King Authur’s recipe for “Classic Baguettes” I learned the correct tensioning method for these little loaves (see steps 6-8 at the King Arthur site) Here is what they suggest:
“Working with one piece at a time, flatten the dough slightly then fold it nearly (but not quite) in half, sealing the edges with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough around, and repeat: fold, then flatten. Repeat this whole process again; the dough should have started to elongate itself.
“With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 16″ log. Your goal is a 15″ baguette, so 16” allows for the slight shrinkage you’ll see once you’re done rolling. Taper each end of the log slightly to create the baguette’s typical “pointy” end.
“Place the logs seam-side down onto a lightly greased or parchment-lined sheet pan or pans; or into the folds of a heavily floured cotton dish towel (or couche).
“Cover them with lightly greased plastic wrap [or damp towel], and allow the loaves to rise until they’re slightly puffy… but [they] won’t be anywhere near doubled in bulk. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour at room temperature (about 68°F).”If this did not help enough try watching this video:
Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and if you are using a stone, preheat it also. Place a pan in the oven for hot water to preheat; begin heating it to a boil before baking.
Roll the baguettes gently onto lightly greased parchment making sure they are seam side down. Using a lame or sharp knife, score each loaf at a 45°angle five or six times by cutting the bread with a very sharp razor or knife.
Mix the mayonnaise and garlic, then paint the bread thickly with this mixture.
Generously sprinkle each loaf with Parmesan cheese.
Place the parchment and bread on your stone or a baking sheet and into the oven.
Carefully pour boiling water into the preheated pan below the stone or baking sheet. This helps the bread rise and gives the loaves a great crust.
Bake these for 24–28 minutes until cheese is a golden brown, then turn the oven off and crack the door about 2 inches. Allow the baguette to cool in the oven. (No matter how tempted to slice and eat, these little babies need time to cure so the dough will not be gummy).
When cool, bag these only in paper, not plastic.
The expert Epi
My sad try
Here is a fun twist on the baguette called the Épi de blé baguette. It is cut to a represent wheat stalk and provides individual servings for those dinner rolls I told you about in the opening paragraphs.
Click here for a video with complete instructions for cutting an Epi on YouTube. As you can see my dough spread during baking; I probably had not let it proof long enough, so the skin was too moist to hold the beautiful Epi shape.
In the comment section below we would love to hear about your experience making baguettes.
Author: Darryl Alder, retired Scouter and outdoorsman, who spent too many hours over a campfire using a dutch oven, and loves sharing recipes for the kitchen and the campfire.