Every Spring my parents reserved a corner of their garden for me. It was totally thrilling to my seven year old self to to tag along to the nursery and flip through the little seed packets and choose a few things to put into my tiny plot of land. Heck it would probably still thrill me, but living in the city makes gardening just a hair tougher.
I remember taking my planting decisions very seriously. Thumbelina carrots or the ghost white ones? Red radishes or purple? The fate of our salads depended on me! The pride I felt when their little green shoots popped up was unbeatable, but when it was time to pull them from the ground and enjoy the fruits of my labor I don't think I ever ate the radishes. I always ended up picking out varieties that were too spicy for my kid palate.
I do remember my dad eating those radishes though. He took them sliced up and sprinkled with salt and as an adult, when I discovered how much I enjoyed their spicy bite I ate them the same way. Then, like a lot of other folks, I discovered how adding a little butter to the equation made them extra special. These toasts are a riff on that idea, pumped up with some fresh herbs, toasty bread, and perfect for a little snack with drinks.
The baguette recipe is from Saveur Magazine's most recent bread-filled issue and for a "quick" baguette they are still really flavorful with a nice crispy crust, a perfect weekend project if you ask me.
Four Hour Baguettes
yield, 3 baguettes
12 oz warm tap water (115ºF)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
14 2/3 oz all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
sesame seeds and poppy seeds for sprinkling (optional)
1. Whisk the water and yeast together in a large bowl and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in the flour and mix with a fork until all of the flour is absorbed, let sit for 20 minutes to let the flour hydrate then add the salt.
2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. I should note here that I ended up adding quite a bit of flour to my work surface (maybe about 1/2c) because the dough was unbelievably sticky, more like paste than dough really. Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
3. Transfer the risen dough to a floured work surface and shape into an 8''x6'' rectangle. Fold the long sides of the dough toward the center, then fold the short sides of the dough towards the center. Return the folded dough to the oiled bowl, seam side down. Cover and let rise until it has doubled in size again, about 1 hour.
4. Place a cast iron skillet on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the rack above the cast iron pan. You will put ice cubes in the cast iron skillet to create steam while the bread is baking. This will help a nice crunchy crust form.
5. Heat oven to 475º and transfer the dough to a floured work surface and divide it into three equal parts. Shape each piece into a 14'' long rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper and arrange the three ropes on the paper with space in between them. Gently pull up the paper between the loaves and slide in tightly rolled dishtowels to support the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the loaves rise until they are doubled in size, about 50 min.
6. Uncover the loaves and remove the dishtowel supports. Using a sharp knife or razor blade, slash the tops of the loaves 4 times. For the seeded loaf pictured above, I lightly brushed one of the loaves with water and sprinkled it with 2t sesame seeds and 2t poppy seeds before slashing. I highly recommend it.
7. Using the parchment paper as a guide, carefully slide the loaves (still on the paper) onto the baking stone. Place 1/2c ice cubes in the hot cast iron skillet below and bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp. This only took about 25 minutes in my oven, but the original recipe said it would take 30, so use your good judgement here. When you start to smell toasty bread smell, I would take a little peek in the oven to see what's going on. Cool before serving.
1 bunch radishes, any type
2T olive oil
Preheat oven to 400º
Trim the greens from the radishes and toss with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast until light golden, 20-25 minutes.
4T unsalted butter, softened
2T mixed chopped soft herbs, I like chives, tarragon and parsley so that is what I used here.
Whisk all of the ingredients together until well combined.
To assemble the Toasts
Slice 1/2 of a baguette into 1/4-1/2'' slices and brush lightly with olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and broil for 45-60 seconds per side until the toasts are golden.
Spread a bit of the herbed butter on each toast and top with a warm, sliced roasted radish. Sprinkle with additional salt if desired.
Top the toasts with herbed goat cheese or ricotta instead of butter and toss a leaf of arugula into the mix, delish.
If you don't feel like roasting, fresh radishes with herbed butter would be great too.