Heart-shaped baguettes are easy to make… well, sort of. Once you’ve got your baguette, it’s easy, but making the baguette in the first place takes a little time.
When you shape your baguette, make it longer and thinner than usual. Also, blunt-ended-baguette lovers, taper your ends. Let your baguette rise the usual way (long and straight). You will shape it right before it goes into the oven. Let it rise on something it won’t stick to, such as a linen towel sprinkled with cornmeal, semolina, or rice flour. (Don’t let it rise on parchment paper because it will stick too much to maneuver later.)
When your baguette is fully risen and the oven is well pre-heated, turn it into a heart. I recommend shaping it onto a thin baking pan (with or without parchment) and putting the whole thing into the oven. (If you use a baking stone, just put the pan on top of it – the stone’s heat will still help your loaf rise.) If you are really good with the pull-the-tablecloth-out-from-under-the-dishes trick, you can shape the heart on a peel or cutting board that’s been well-sprinkled (with cornmeal, semolina, or rice flour) and drop it onto your pizza stone, but you might need to readjust the heart shape once you’ve loaded the baguette into the oven, and this can lead to a messy heart shape or deflated places.
Here’s how to shape it:
Be gentle; try not to deflate the baguette. 1. Start the heart shape, keeping it symmetric. 2. Use your hands in a V-shape to pinch the bottom of the heart. 3. Curl the ends of the baguette to finish the heart. Re-pinch the bottom if necessary. The opening of the baguette goes at the top of the heart. Don’t put the opening at the bottom, unless you are dating a dentist.
Some people like to score the sides of the heart (that is, make cuts with a knife or razor blade; this is what creates the oval openings on normal baguettes), but I think this looks messy. If you don’t make any cuts, however, you run the risk of having your baguette split open in places:
The way to avoid this is to let your baguette be well-proofed before it goes into the oven. You want it big and poofy. (Poofy is not a word, but it should be.) Steam your baguette, load it in, shut the door, and don’t peek for 15 minutes! I hope it turns out great, and Happy Valentine’s Day!