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Banh mi recipe (Vietnamese baguette)

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Ingredients

For 5-6 loaves of baguette
200g bread flour
5g instant active dry yeast
8g sugar
2g salt

Banh mi recipe (Vietnamese baguette)

  • Serves 5
  • Medium

Directions

Banh mi recipe: In this section, we will share with you the steps and techniques needed in kneading and making Vietnamese baguette or sandwich itself. Once the baguette has been made, it is often pretty simple and flexible for you to continue adding in the other ingredients (such as paste, ham, vegetables and butter…).

However, one thing most foreigners are unaware of is the fact that the most vital part of this dish is actually the baguette itself. Too soft or too chewy texture of the baguette would lead to a complete failure, and this is why in today’s recipe, we will provide in-depth instruction on how to create authentic Vietnamese baguette that is aromatic, crispy and tastes great!

Notes on the ingredients:

For Vietnamese banh mi recipe, you should use bread flour with the content of protein ranges from 11.5% to 12.5%. Lower protein flour can make bread fibre tough. Higher protein flour requires much more water to make leading to coarse and hard bread fibre.

Instant active dry yeast: this is also known as “bread machine yeast”. This yeast is milled into finer particles and it does not need to be dissolved in water like active dry yeast does so you can add it along with dry ingredients.

How to use active dry yeast and instant active dry yeast: you can consult our recipe. Yeast for bread is totally different from leavening agent or alcoholic yeast.

It is better for you to use more water to make bread rather than less water. In general, to make crisp bread, we need a proportion of 3/5 water to bread. It means that for every 100gr flour with 12% protein, we need 60gr water. Less water makes bread hard and thus cannot be kept for a long time. Plus, less water may make bread not expand in structure. 60% is average proportion. As you may not have much experience in making bread, especially dough kneading, you should choose this proportion. Relatively wet dough is easy to knead and is not sticky. On the other hand, if you are used to making bread, you can increase the proportion from 60% to 63% or 65%.

Water proportion: commonly-used flour’s water proportion is between 65% and 68%. A high amount of water makes bread expand in structure and can be kept for a long time. Plus, bread fibres are chewy, and air bubbles are “eye- catching”. Nevertheless, we only use water ranges from 60% to 70% of flour for Vietnamese bread. Having a lot of water can give bread a good taste but we would have to spend a lot of time kneading dough. In addition, we may meet have difficulties in forming the right shape. Note: we can change the water proportion depending on the flour and protein content. Old flour needs more water than new flour. Higher protein flour needs more water than lower protein flour. You may be very flexible in changing water proportion suitable for the type of flour when making bread.

 

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Steps

1
Done

Mix bread flour and instant active dry yeast. Add salt, sugar, and water. Use a spoon or hand mixer set in the lowest mode to stir ingredients until it becomes a dough. The dough is smooth and we cannot see dry flour.

Note: if you use hand mixer, you should use cold water because the operation of mixer can heat up the dough. If you use lukewarm water, often mixed with flour, the dough can be heated affecting instant active dry yeast. As a result, yeast will die off and the baguette does not have a good taste.

2
Done
10 minutes

Set aside the dough about 10 minutes. If the weather is dry, you may use a wet towel to cover the bowl to keep the dough not dry.

Note: set aside the dough to form gluten (a type of protein found in grain such as wheat and rye). As a result, the dough is less sticky and wet. In addition, it is easy for us to knead the dough (especially using our hand) without spending too much time and flour. Even if we use the hand mixer, we should set aside the dough. Mixing dough for a long time by mixer can heat up the dough, which we should avoid.

3
Done
15-20 minutes

After 10 minutes, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and has a good elasticity. It takes you 10 minutes to 15 minutes to knead the dough with hands. However, you can save time by using Bosch mixer. It often takes you 5 minutes to 7 minutes to knead the dough by mixer with the speed at around 2 to 3.5 (5 is the highest speed). Set aside the dough about 5 minutes to 10 minutes.

4
Done

After setting aside the dough, knead it for about 5 or 10 minutes (knead with hands) until the dough is smooth. Authentic dough can be created with a thin single layer. It’s also acceptable if we cannot create the dough with layer. However, at last, we need to make dough smooth and have good elasticity.

At this stage, If you try pressing with one finger, a dent should appear on the surface but it should quickly disappear.

After kneading 3 times, the dough should be firm, smooth, and elastic. If we feel relatively sticky when touching it, the water proportion of the flour is suitable.

If the dough is smooth and elastic, but rather hard and it is difficult to stick 2 edges of the dough, it is considered relatively dry dough.

5
Done

Prepare a big crock, pot, or a box (it’s better to have a cover). Grease oil inside the crock. Put the dough into the crock. Cover the crock. If you do not have a cover, use a plastic bag or towel instead.

Keep the dough at warm temperature, about 30oC- 35oC, maybe lower temperature but have to wait slowly (yeast acts best at this temperature).

6
Done
50-60 minutes

When the dough increases in volume about 1.5 times (50 to 60 minutes depending on the temperature), pick the dough out. Put the dough on the floured surface. Now, inside the dough has more air so if we can keep the air, the baguette will have more air bubbles. As a result, the baguettes will be softer and crisper.

7
Done

Use a precision balance to divide the dough into 5 equal pieces, each piece is 65gr.

8
Done

Prepare a tray or baking tool. To make bread increase in volume and crisp, you should choose tools that transfers heat rapidly such as baking stone, pizza stone, or a black tray that comes with oven (with wax paper). It is better for you to have a baguette baking mold because the mold has many small holes to evaporate water. This affects the crust of the baguette and makes them crisp.

9
Done

Use your hands to flatten the dough into a rectangle shape. Use a tool to roll the dough carefully to avoid breaking air bubbles inside the dough. The dough can be elastic and shrink so we can roll the dough 8 to 10 cm in width.

Form the shape of the baguette with all 5 pieces and set aside the dough. Gluten protein will shrink.

10
Done

Use your hands to roll the dough lengthwise (about 12 or 14cm) and pinch the edges together to make the top of the dough.

Fold the top of the dough and roll the dough round.

Try to roll firmly and pinch the edges together.

11
Done

Use your palm to shape the dough longer and more streamlined. The streamline dough will be very eye- catching.

12
Done

Baking the baguettes

Because baguette may double in size (due to the instant active dry yeast), we will need to leave some room between the baguettes when baking.
Plus, you can make round baguettes. You should use wax paper with the tray to avoid the stickiness.

13
Done
40 minutes

Keep the dough in a warm and wet condition. The best way is turn on the oven at 50oC for about 3 or 5 minutes. When the temperature is 30 to 40oC, put the tray into the oven with water glass to keep wet. Spray water on both sides of the oven, not on the surface of the dough.

Do not use a towel or plastic bag to cover the dough to avoid it getting sticky while baking baguettes.

Normally, you need to heat the oven at 240oC to 250o. With your household oven, you will typically need to wait about 20 to 25 minutes to reach this temperature. Wait until the baguettes expand about 1.5 times (after around 30 to 40 minutes), take them out of the oven and keep at room temperature.

Now turn on the oven at the highest level (250oC with household oven). While waiting for the oven to heat, boil water to have the water evaporates when baking baguettes, this helps to keep the surrounding moist which is ideal for baking. Use a sprayer or brush with a bowl of water to wet the surface of the baguette.

14
Done

After the dough expands about 1.5 times, make a quick and determined slash across the dough lengthwise (the depth of the slash is about 5 or 7cm). Hold the knife such that you can make a slightly slanted slash (use paper cut knife or razor blade).

15
Done
18-20 minutes

After making a slash, spray water on the surface of the bread, especially on the slash. Make sure to keep the sprayer far away from baguettes while spraying because spraying too strongly can make the baguettes flat.

Wear gloves. Put the tray into the bottom rack of the oven and place the baguettes into the oven on a different rack. Pour boiling water on the bottom tray. Spray water on both sides of the oven. The oven has 5 racks, we must put the tray of baguettes on the rack lower than the central rack.

The temperature and time depend on the oven but following is the baking process:

The first 5 minutes: baking baguette at 240 to 250o. The baguettes should expand fast and big (we can spray water 1 or 2 times in this period)

When the baguettes expand in size, turn down the oven to around 220 to 230o. Continue baking for another 2 to 3 minutes. When the surface of baguette turns light golden brown, we reverse the tray of baguettes.

Baking the baguettes about 2 or 3 another minutes, use wax paper to cover the baguettes. Turn down the oven to about 200oC, and bake for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the tray of water to allow the crust of baguettes to continue cracking.

Baguettes made from 65gr flour often are done after 15 to 17 minutes. When baguettes are done, leave them inside the oven about 3 or 5 minutes. Remember not to leave the baguettes for a long time in the oven. If that happens, the crust of the baguette will be too hard and thick.

Baking bigger sized baguettes should take a longer time.

16
Done
15 -20 minutes

Remove the tray of baguettes out of the oven and leave them to cool for about 15 or 20 minutes. If we cut baguettes too soon, the crumbs of baguettes would still be sticky.

Authentic baguettes crusts are golden brown, thin, and crisp. Furthermore, they has tender crumbs, many air bubbles, and chewy. Sometimes, there are cracks appearing on the surface. Cool baguettes are less crisp but crust is tender and chewy.

Enjoy the baguettes as soon as possible. If you want to keep them for the next day, use paper package and not plastic package. Before consuming, take note to bake the baguettes at about 160 to 170oC to make them crispy again. Do not keep baguettes for more than 2 days.

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