I’ll start with a confession. I am not particularly brilliant with fusion cooking. So we had this monthly challenge for February at Chefs across boundaries where Pondicherry inspired French-Tamil fusion cooking was required. I don’t know much about either of the cuisines. Fortunately, good old Google came to my rescue! 😀
They served little baguettes dunked into coconut milk at The Grand Maratha, Mumbai as dessert. And here is where I drew my inspiration from.
Made saffron-infused and mildly sweet baguettes following the basic baguette recipe from here and served them with Coconut milk syrup/basundi.
The challenge was put forward by the very talented Hetal Kamdar. Thanks Hetal, for helping me challenge myself.
For the baguettes you need
(This recipe makes 2 baguettes. I made four small ones)
2½ cup all-purpose flour/maida
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp instant dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp thick cream/malai for brushing the baguettes. (I replaced egg whites of the original recipe, with cream)
A generous pinch of saffron
Add sugar and yeast to warm water and rest covered in a warm place for 13-15 minutes till it is frothy.
Dry grind the saffron stands using mortar and pestle for a minute. Then add a few drops of milk or warm water and grind some more. This will help release the flavours from the strands of saffron. Add a tablespoon of water and mix well.
In a large bowl take the flour and add salt and mix well.
Once the yeast is well bloomed, start with the kneading. First add the saffron water and then slowly the yeast and knead for a good 10 minutes.
Cover and let it rest in a warm place until the dough is doubled. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
Roll it out into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut it into half to create two 8×12 inch rectangles. Starting with the 12 inch side, roll each rectangle up tightly. Flatten out air bubbles as you go and seal the ends.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper or grease it. Place the rolls on the tray.
This is how I do it to retain the shape of the baguettes. I save the rolls from the aluminium foil packs and use them as separators to keep the shape of the baguettes while they prove.
Lay the rolls on a large tray and cover them with butter paper. Before placing the baguettes on the butter paper, make sure the area underneath is well greased with oil. If it is not, the baguettes will stick to the paper.
Make deep diagonal slashes across the tops of the loaves.
Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Lay them on a greased baking sheet.
Preheat the oven at 170C for ten minutes.Brush the tops of the loaves with cream/malai.Bake at 170C for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Slice the baguettes once cool and keep covered in an airtight box till futher use.
To prepare the Basundi/coconut milk syrup
1 litre whole milk
4-5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup first press coconut milk
A few drops of rose water/ kewda water
Take a litre of whole milk and reduce it to about one fourth (one and a quarter cup) on high heat, stirring continuously. Add cardamom powder and sugar. Take off the heat and let cool. Add half a cup of thick first press coconut milk and mix well. Add a few drops of rose water/ gulab jal. Put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Prepare sugar syrup with a cup of water and half a cup of sugar. Bring the water and sugar to boil and take off the heat. Stir in half a tsp of cardamom powder.
Spread ghee/clarified butter on both sides of the sliced baguettes and toast them on the griddle or in the oven till they are crisp. Warm up the sugar syrup.
Give the toasted baguettes a quick dip in the sugar syrup and serve with chilled basundi.