France is home to a slew of delicious and famous bread. The flavor that each of them brings is unique and makes people love it.
One of them is the batard bread – a lesser-known relative of the baguette. How to make batard bread? How to store it properly? Let’s scroll down to discover.
What Is Batard Bread? aka French Batard Bread or Bâtard
Batard bread is a lean bread that originated in France and is a lesser-known relative of baguette. France is famous for its attractive bakeries and delicious bread. So nothing of surprise that batard bread has its roots in French cuisine.
A batard loaf has a football-shaped form, about 6-12 inches long and around 4-6 inches wide. This type is said to be a small variant of the standard baguette with some common ingredients.
However, its taste is in no way subpar to the baguette. It is even a well-favored crowd-pleaser due to the soft and delicate taste created from baking powder and yeast.
Difference Between A Baguette And A Batard Bread
The first obvious difference is in shape. Traditional baguettes are usually very long, more than a foot, and have a rather narrow width.
Meanwhile, batard bread measures about half shorter than baguettes and has a larger width. Its shape sometimes resembles a soccer ball. It can be seen as a combination of the boule and baguettes.
Another point setting them apart is that traditional baguettes are hard, sweet, savory, and a bit sour. Batard bread delivers a milder taste and a more nutty tone. It boasts a thicker and crisper crust than baguettes, and its filling is soft and supple. People often slice it to make sandwiches or serve it with main courses.
Reputation also draws a line between the two. It goes without saying that batard bread is not as famous as baguettes. People can immediately picture a baguette, but if you talk about batard bread, it probably takes quite some time for people to recognize it. “A kind of bread” might be what they can think of.
Finally, batard bread requires a shorter cooking time than that baguettes. We consider this a real competitive edge of this type of bread.
How To Make Batard Bread: Easy Recipe
Ingredients For Making The Batard Bread
To start your batard bread baking journey (for about 2 loaves of bread), you need 1 ½ cups warm water, 3 ½ cups bread flour, 2 tsp yeast, and 2 tsp salt (easy batard recipe). Once you are familiar with this recipe, you can even make professional bâtard for wholesale!
Yeast is an indispensable catalyst for the ingredients in bread dough. Through the incubation process, it will expand and give the bread a unique flavor.
You can choose any commercial yeast available in the market. Among them, active dry yeast is probably the best and most reliable option. It can be added directly to dry ingredients.
In addition, fresh yeast is also often used to make bread, but it only lasts a few weeks in the refrigerator. Yeast works ideally at 20 – 37°C (68-99°F), and it will die if the temperature is too high, from 140°F or more.
Bread flour is another ingredient that helps ensure the flavor and texture of batard bread. You can also substitute all-purpose flour for it, but the overall texture of the bread may not live up to your expectations.
Bread flour has a protein content of 12 to 14%, while that index of all-purpose hits only 10-12%. Therefore, the batard bread after baking will have a lighter weight if using bread flour.
Alternatively, you can add 5% of whole wheat flour to provide more nutrients and help balance protein and carbohydrates. However, don’t add too much, as the dough’s hydration level will make the loaf’s texture imperfect.
No water equates to an incomplete bread-making process. You can utilize chlorine-free water at 110-115°F using a thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your hand to check that the water is warm.
When the water is too hot, the dough will stick to the hands when kneading, making it difficult to shape the bread. Meanwhile, kneading the dough with cold water will make the dough clump and not dissolve completely.
Step By Step Instructions
1. Activate Yeast
The first step in this baking journey is to activate the yeast (dry yeast) with warm water. As mentioned above, the temperature of the water should be between 110-115°F.
Put the sugar into the water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Then you need to add active dry yeast and mix it well with the sugar-water solution.
Let it rest for about 5-10 minutes until you see a lot of air bubbles. This proves that the yeast has been successfully activated.
2. Add The Water-Yeast Into The Ingredients
Bâtard is lean bread, so salt and bread flour are the two main ingredients. Mix 3 ½ cups bread flour with 2 tsp yeast and 2 tsp salt using a mixer or whisk.
Next, you need to pour the yeast water into the bread flour-salt mix you just got and blend them. Mixing them by machine first would be best because maneuvering by hand will not ensure that the ingredients are evenly mixed.
3. Kneading The Dough
- Kneading with dough mixer:
First, you need to use a dough mixer to mix the dough at speed 2. After about 10-15 minutes, the dough will become smooth and separate from the wall of the bowl.
At this point, you need to increase the kneading speed of the mixer to 3 or higher until the dough separates from the bottom of the bowl. Stop kneading when the dough gets smooth and no longer sticks to the bowl.
- Kneading with hands:
After kneading with the machine, you should use your fist to knead a few more times so that the dry ingredients are completely hydrated. Then let the dough rest for 30 minutes for it to absorb enough water.
Next, you need to cover the dough with a thin layer and start kneading. You should not knead randomly but stretch the dough forward and then fold it. It helps to remove air bubbles in the dough. Continue doing this until the dough becomes smooth and pliable.
4. Let The Dough Rise
You can press your finger on the dough to check whether it is done. If the dough is pushed back, it has achieved the perfect consistency.
Next, place the dough in a bowl greased or oiled. It would be best if you chose large bowls so that the dough can rise evenly. You can also let it rise in the bowl you use to mix the ingredients. Cover the bowl with a towel or cloth and let the dough rise at room temperature.
If you want it to double in size, 2-5 hours is a perfect time. Suppose you want a batard bread that is 3 times bigger than the original dough; then you can let it rise for 3-5 hours.
Or when you want to leave it overnight to bake tomorrow, let the dough rise for 40 minutes and then put it in the fridge. It will continue to rise in the refrigerator slower than at room temp.
5. Shaping Batard Bread
Before shaping the dough, you need to apply a layer of flour on the board and on your hands to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands while shaping.
Next, you need to flatten the dough to pop all the air bubbles during the rise. It would be best if you observed and burst all the bubbles to ensure the perfect internal structure of the batard bread.
In the next step, use a scale and a bench scraper to divide the dough in half. Should you not have a scale and want to speed up the process, simply shape the dough into a circle and divide it in half.
Next, seal the bottom dough corners to form 2 round dough balls. Let them rise again for about 30 minutes before the forming bread phase begins.
Although its common length is 6-12 inches, you can increase its length to create medium-sized long batards. If you love football-shaped loaves, you can form your dough into an oval shape.
Flatten the dough first to ensure the final texture is as expected. Next, fold the top 2 sides like an envelope, turn the dough over, fold the top edge down, and rub it with your hands. Do this repeatedly and press down with your fist after each fold. You should press lightly to secure the edges of the dough.
The next step is to flip the dough with the edges folded down and pull the dough towards you. Repeat that process but in the opposite direction. The pull depends on the length and width of the bread you want to get. This process also gives tension to the dough and the toughness of the bread after it is baked.
6. Baking Batard Bread
To start baking, you need to preheat the oven with a baking stone. You can place it in the oven at 480°F. If you don’t have a baking stone, preheat a baking or cookie sheet instead.
After pressing your finger into the dough and seeing it bounce back to its original position, you can bake the bread. Take a knife or scissors to score the dough. Usually, bakers take advantage of bread lames to create diagonal or horizontal lines on unbaked loaves.
Finally, spray some water on the batard before putting it in the oven. Wetting the dough helps the bread surface not to dry quickly, creating the best moisture for the inside of the dough to expand.
First, bake it at 480°F for 15 minutes and reduce it to 450°F. When the bread begins to dry, you can spray it a second time so that the bread can expand as much as you want.
Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until the crust turns golden brown. After finishing, let the bread cool for about 20 minutes, and now you are having the batard bread at bakery standard. It’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labors!
Storage Of This Bread
Baked French batards can last for 3-4 days at room temperature if stored properly. One of the most reliable ways to preserve it is to use a cotton cloth or bread bag. You can also use paper bags to wrap batard bread.
Do not put the bread directly in the refrigerator. Instead, when you want to preserve large quantities of bread, you should wrap them in foil or bulk and put it in the freezer. Doing so will keep the bread from spoiling for a long time.
Notes & Tips When Making Batard Bread
When the dough is soft and pliable, you should stop kneading. Squeeze the dough with your hands to perform the Windowpane test, which determines whether the dough is appropriate for a bulk rise.
To knead by hand, you can start by gently blending the wet and dry components with the back of a spoon or whatnot until no dry flour remains.
Wrap the dough and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. Start kneading it on a baking sheet or board by extending forward and backward until it is smooth.
If you wish to season the bread with herbs or other spices, do so during the pre-shaping process. Put all of the ingredients or vegetables on a thin piece of dough. If you add them sooner, the growth and stability of the gluten pattern will deteriorate.
The deepest solitary score should be at least half an inch. A series of cuts are maybe half as thick.
Before baking, test the baking stone’s heat. The stove air reaches 480°F, significantly faster than the baking stone.
You should slowly blend the flour and water to make the dough without using the mixer. You may notice that the dough is rather dry and may be inclined to add additional water.
However, when you beat the flour with your fingers, you will see that the dough becomes fully moistened without needing more water. Allowing the dough to autolyze stimulates gluten production and makes kneading the dough considerably simpler.
Is Batard A Simple Sourdough Batard?
The batard is still produced using sourdough, but it is a larger oval-shaped bread, not long or thin like the baguette.
Sourdough batard is distinguished by its crunchy exterior and delicate, sticky crumbs.
What Type Of Bread Is A Batard?
Batard bread is a French bread with a ball-like form that is reminiscent of a baguette and a boule.
The variety of loaf is often referred to as such due to its alleged inferiority to the ordinary baguette.
What Is Country Batard Bread?
Batard bread is one of the last traditional forms created by the French. Also, because they have some empty space, the term ‘batard’ comes from the French word for ‘bastard.’ French bakers used to solely mold their French dough into baguette and boule forms.
A baker invented the loaf form in the nineteenth century. That was a big hit. The bread was neither a baguette nor a round but something in between. As a result, people dubbed it a “bastard.”
Batard bread is among French types of bread because of its softness and simple recipe. If you want a bread that is quick to make but also tastes great, then batard bread is a perfect choice.
Hopefully, through this batard bread recipe and ways to store it properly, you can make perfect batards.