Banh Mi – Vietnames -Style Baguettes

A viewer recently suggested that I might like to bake some Banh Mi, which are a Vietnamese-style baguettes.  I had never even heard of them, so I did some research and watched a good few videos on how to make them.  

I found a lovely recipe on Aimee’s Cooking.  In fact she demonstrated, in separate videos, two different versions of Banh Mi.  I rather liked the one that included butter and egg and made a thin but crispy crust as well as a very soft interior.    So I decided that I would make that one, but with a couple of small variations, such as not including vitamin C and resting the dough for a few minutes half-way through the kneading. 

The recipe is actually quite straightforward though it takes some time, as do most bread recipes, as the dough has to be allowed to rest and rise a couple of times before baking.

I was very pleased indeed with how mine turned out.  They were certainly lovely and soft inside and the crust was not too thick and it was crisp too.  

I do want to mention that most of the recipes and videos I researched didn’t include butter and egg, so these may not be entirely authentic but they are very good indeed.  I also want to say that although the recipe calls for bread improver I would not recommend purchasing that just for this recipe.  If you have some already it is good to use it, but it is usually sold in large bags and only a small amount is needed.   Even without bread improver the Banh Mi will turn out very well.  Using  a small amount of vital wheat gluten would also be a good substitute, as would using extra strong bread flour instead of the more usual bread flour.  But in any event simple bread flour without any additional improver  will work very well.

Banh Mi – Vietnamese-style Baguettes
Banh Mi – Vietnamese-style Baguettes – Video 

Ingredients:
  • 500g(3 1/3 cups) bread flour (based on 150g per cup)
  • 7g (2 1/4 tsp/1 packet) instant yeast
  • 5g(1 1/2 tsp) bread improver, if you have it
  • 265ml (1 cup +1 tbsp) water
  • 8g(2 tsp) salt
  • 6g (1 tsp) sugar
  • 1 large egg(XL in USA)
  • 28g(2 tbsp) butter

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, bread improver if using, sugar and yeast into the bowl of stand mixer and stir around.
  2. Add the water, melted butter, egg and salt and mix with the dough hook on a slow speed(I used level 2) for two minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to a medium fast speed(I used level 6)  and knead for 5 minutes.
  4. Rest the dough for 5 minutes.
  5. Knead again, on the same speed for a further 5 minutes.
  6. The dough will be quite smooth but will still be tacky.
  7. Lightly oil a bowl and oil your hands too.
  8. Take the dough into your hands and work it into a ball, creating tension on the top, until you have a nice smooth top.
  9. Place the ball of dough, top side facing upwards, into the oiled bowl.
  10. Gently coat the top of the dough with oil as well.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place until the dough is increased in size by 2 to 2 1/2 times (mine took about an hour).
  12. Prepare a large cotton cloth by covering it with flour and forming a raised edge on one side. Or you can use a baguette tray.
  13. Oil the work surface and place the dough, smooth top side downwards, on the surface.
  14. Flatten the dough and divide into 6 equal sized pieces, triangular in shape.
  15. For each piece hold it at the base of the triangle an slap the dough onto the oiled counter, so that the tip of the triangle stretches out into a long strip.  You can do this a couple of times to make it longer.
  16. Place the dough on the surface and start to roll from the pointed tip, down towards the base of the triangle.  Only use the outer edges of the dough for rolling, leaving the centre to bulge up as the air is trapped inside.
  17. Continue rolling, pressing the unrolled dough outwards to about the same width as the rolled part.
  18. As you get to the base of the dough press it flat, as thin as possible and continue to roll the Banh Mi shape.
  19. Carefully pick up the rolled dough and place it on the prepared cloth, so that a long side of the banh mi is resting against the raised edge.
  20. Take the cloth and create another raised edge to support the banh mi dough.  (You can place 2 banh mi in each fold if you use a large enough cloth.
  21. Repeat the process for all the dough.
  22. Spray, or gently brush, oil over the top of the dough.  The cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  23. Preheat the oven to 210C/190C Fan/410F.
  24. Place a tray of water onto the floor of the oven.
  25. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper
  26. Prepare a spray bottle with some water.
  27. Uncover the dough and spray with water.
  28. Using a very sharp knife, or a blade of choice, to make a single cut along most of the length of each piece of dough.  Do not cut too deeply, only about 1/4 inch will be good enough.
  29. The dough should start to open up.
  30. Carefully transfer the banh mi dough onto the parchment paper and place in the oven to bake for about 22 to 25 minutes.
  31. After two minutes open the oven, carefully as there will be steam coming out, and spray water over the top of the banh mi. Close the oven door and continue baking.
  32. When they have been baking for 10 minutes carefully remove the tray of water from the oven.
  33. When the banh mi have turned a nice golden brown colour remove them from the oven(mine took exactly 22 minutes) and transfer to a wire rack to cook completely.


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