When we were in Normandy, back in the summer, we had a fabulously chewy, open textured seeded baguette in the generous bread basket every morning at our B&B.  I’ve been wanting to recreate something similar ever since.  For some reason I decided that ale (Fullers’ ESB as that was what we had in the fridge) was a necessary addition to my version although I’m almost certain it wouldn’t have been in the original!  It has got me thinking though: are there any Norman breads made with cider?

I usually put my dough in the fridge to rise slowly overnight but forgot this time and left it on the counter. It wasn’t any the worse for it and, as I had used fridge-cold ale and it had been a cool night, the dough still needed two hours for the final rising so my forgetfulness might have been a blessing.

The recipe is basically a seedy version of my malthouse rolls recipe but ale replaces most of water and I used a little more liquid to help create an open texture and a crusty exterior. I managed to wrestle the remainder of the bottle of Fullers’ from my husband’s arms (“oh, that’s my favourite, are you using that to make bread?”) to keep a little extra ale to use the following day to keep the rising dough moist and to brush on to the baguettes before putting them in the oven.

I’m really pleased with the result.  A bit too pleased it seems as there doesn’t seem to be much left.  It doesn’t have quite as open a texture as the original but it is close and the chewiness is exactly where I wanted it.  More importantly, the boys loved it!

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