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Choosing Baguette for Crostini - What am I doing wrong?

I've made several attempts to made different crostini's for gatherings, dinners, etc. But everytime I prepare it, I feel like the baguette is too chewy and you have to muscle through the crust to get it to separate. I am jealous when I eat one where the toppings and the bread bite away with no effort.

I've tried the french breads at the big-chain supermarkets, Whole Foods and Henry's, but they all turn out generally the same.

What am I doing wrong?

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  1. I like to keep crostini small and thin. That way, they toast nicely and don't stay chewy at all. Use a skinny baguette rather than a thicker one. Buy it a couple of days in advance and take it out of its wrapper. Let it get a bit stale. This will make it easier for you to cut into thin slices (ovals or rounds). Brush a very small amount of olive oil on each side and toast on baking sheets until they reach the desired doneness.

    Some baguettes have really tough crusts, which is tasty, but makes it difficult if your topping is something like bruschetta or sauteed rapini -- very messy.

    8 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      What? "bruschetta" isn't a topping.

      1. re: pikawicca

        that depends on whether the 'sch' is hard (k) or soft (sh) :)

        As a loan word in American English, 'bruschetta' often does refer to a style of topping, even though in strict Italian usage it means 'charcoal toasted bread used to sample olive oil'. (I think that's a fair summary of earlier Bruschetta threads)

        What is the difference between crostini and bruschetta? Do both refer to toasted bread slices? Is one harder than the other? Difference in typical toppings? Can crostini also refer to a plain or savory cracker?

        1. re: paulj

          I would argue that the soft (sh) use of bruschetta in AmEng is not so much a loanword as an incorrect pronunciation and use of the term. But that's me. ;)

          The diff between crostini and bruschetta is that crostini are generally toasted, bruschetta is grilled. Crostini are usually topped. Bruschetta are sometimes topped, but classically just rubbed with garlic.

          In response to 1sweetpea, I wouldn't let a baguette sit out for a couple days before slicing. A real baguette would turn into a brick and shatter when you try to slice it.

          1. re: paulj

            Please don't pronounce bruschetta with the soft "sh." That pronounciation is Italian slang for a private part of the female anatomy! I was sharply corrected by an Italian woman the first time I used the incorrect pronounciation and then I learned why.
            More details here:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4180...

            Crostini is a toasted bread slice, suitable for toppings or to be eaten plain. Bruschetta is a toasted or grilled bread *with* the toppings on it, the finished appetizer. It is not the topping itself, only the bread and topping combo. If it is referred to as the topping only, or pronounced with an "sh," both of those are incorrect.

            The word is Roman in origin, from "bruscare" and thus has a K sound, according to my old Latin books and vvvindaloo:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4180...

            Long thread on Bruschetta here:
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/418085

            Ugolee, I suspect you did not toast the bagette slices adquately. Try again, and keep an eye on them while they're in the oven. They'll burn when you turn your back! You can store them for several days before use.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              then why spell it, in English speaking contexts, in a way that invites mis pronunciation? Which is more important - the spoken or the written form? It may be good advise when traveling in Italy, but probably not effective when dealling with common usage in the USA.

              Since I don't know any Italian, I'm probably even pronouncing crostini wrong.

              1. re: paulj

                I guess we spell it that way because that's the way it's spelled, and our language no longer as easily changes "international" spellings to accomodate ease of phonetics or assimilation, like it once did. The US has learned how to properly pronounce other difficult food words properly: gnocchi, Gewurztraminer, prosciutto, haricots verts, thuringer, tagliatelle, latkes, mache, pho, pancetta, and on and on. I hope the same will happen for bruschetta. Thanks for listening. M.

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  I suspect most of those words get mispronounced in one or another, especially by people who first encounter them in print form. Until a week a go I was pronouncing 'genmaicha' with a soft 'g'.

                  I'd pronounce 'thuringer' as though it was an English spelling (with the English 'th'), but the fact that you include it in the list makes me suspect that that is wrong.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    I think it was the waves of immigration that gave US English the charming tendency to preserve spelling and roughly approximate pronunciation for loan words. I'd also add the long list of Spanish words that most don't even think of as foreign: it's hoja santa, for example, not oha santa; and jalapeño, not halapenyo. Even if English spelling wasn't internally crazy, I don't think most Americans want to actually go down the road of rationalizing the spelling of load words: thanks to the bureaucrats, Germans are now supposed to butcher loan words from their neighbors into things like Majonäse (Mayonnaise), despite their historical tendency to borrow the spelling along with the word.

                    And regarding the question: I think Maria's right that you're slicing things too thick. You may also be toasting at too high a temperature. A lower temp will more slowly dry out the bread and give you something more crispy and less chewy. And finally, the crust on baguettes can run from thin and crispy to thick and chewy. Go for the thinner, more delicate end of things if you're putting something delicate on top. Foie gras + sandwich-style bread; rounds of goat cheese + baguette; slices of sausage or ham + rustic baguette.

        2. You have to toast them until they are crisp. It doesn't really matter what bread you use, as once they are crispy, they can't be chewy.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jaykayen

            300 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway thru.....

          2. I agree, you have to slice the bread thin.

            1. I use Wholooe Foods Mini French and only toast one side, the bottom. That way your topping keeps the other side from toasting.

              1. I slice about an inch thick and put under broiler until toasted. And flip and toast the other side. Then I brush lightly with olive oil on one side and rub with a slice of garlic or a half tomato.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sarah galvin

                  You've just described bruschetta, not crostini, which are thin, crisp toasts that take any number of toppings.