Baguettes

Fresh baguettes, any time you want! (Well, some planning is required)

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It’s been quite awhile since I have posted a bread but this one should make up for it. I was a little worried mid-way through, thinking I had ruined the air bubbles and over kneaded the dough, but thankfully it all worked out. And now, I can post to you clearer instructions so you won’t make the same mistakes.

The bread had an epic (yes, that’s right, epic) crusty exterior. It was so crisp and golden brown, I couldn’t have imagined better. The inside of the baguette was soft, moist, and airy.

The only downside to this recipe is the length of time it takes to make 2 baguettes – 24 hours. There are variations to decrease about 4 hours, but it is all about time management. You need to prepare the night before. At the bottom of this post I’ll write a helpful timeline so you can still manage to have some free time during your day ūüôā

As usual, this bread requires a poolish starter, however, it also requires a scrap dough starter.

The recipe will make two baguettes – enough for a 4 person meal.

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Ingredients & Steps:

Scrap Dough
– 1/4 cup water (room temperature)
– 1/8 teaspoon yeast
Р1/4 cup + 2 1/2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
– 3/16 teaspoon salt

Step One: Combine and stir the water and yeast.

Step Two: Mix the flour and salt in a separate bowl.

Step Three: Add 2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of the yeast water to the flour and salt mixture. Stir until a soft and sticky dough forms (5 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 3 hours, then refrigerate.

Dough Starter (Poolish)
Р1/2 cup + 1/2 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1/2 Tablespoon yeast mixture (from scrap dough above)
Р1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tablespoons water (room temperature)

Step One: Mix the flour and 1/2 Tablespoon from the yeast water. Add in the additional water and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 11-16 hours (overnight). It will triple in size.

Dough
Р1 cup + 3 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1/8 teaspoon yeast
– 6 Tablespoons water (room temperature)
– poolish (above)
– srcap dough (above)

Step One: Whisk flour and yeast together. Add the water to the poolish and combine with the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon about 2-3 minutes. Cover and rest for 20 minutes.

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Step Two: Tear the scrap dough into pieces and add to the dough. Stir in salt and knead (Kitchen Aid speed #4) for 7 minutes. Cover.

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Step Three: Perform one business letter fold every 20 minutes for 1 hour (3 times), then cover and let rise for 1-2 hours. The function of a business letter fold is to strengthen the gluten and move the yeast around. The steps to a business letter fold are: lightly pull the dough into a rectangular shape, fold 1/3 of the dough into the middle, then the top 1/3 over that portion (as if to fold a letter); without stretching again, repeat one more time.

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Step Four: Cut the dough in half and pat into a rectangular log.  Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. (If you want to save time, let rest for 10 minutes).

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Step Five: Stretch each log into a 8 by 5 inch rectangle. Fold the longest edge into the centre, and then fold the opposite edge just on top. Seal the seam by placing the side of your hand on the seam and placing a bit of pressure. Then, this is the tricky part to explain. Start by folding one of the longest edges over the entire loaf (width wise) and making a new seam along the edge of the loaf. Follow this procedure all the way down the loaf and pinch the seam closed. Be very gentle so the air bubbles do not break.

Step Six: Roll each log with your hands until they are each about 14 inches long. Place on a baking sheet (or baguette pan), cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 5 (or more) hours. You can skip this step and bake right away, but the longer they rest in the fridge the crispier the crust and the larger the air holes.

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Step Seven: Take the baguettes out of the fridge, and let rest for 1-1.5 hours. Remove the plastic wrap, and create 1/4 to 1/2 deep diagonal slashes.

Step Eight: Place the baking sheet in the oven (or on top of a baking stone for a crispier crust) at 450F. When you do this, place a baking sheet with some ice cubs below. This will steam the bread. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven to 475F and bake for another 5 minutes.

Step Nine: Prop the oven ajar, turn the oven off, and let the bread sit for 5 minutes. Then remove and cool.

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My Sample Timeline:

630pm Make poolish and scrap dough
930pm Place scrap dough in fridge
730am Mix dough & rest
755am Add scrap dough to dough and knead
8am – 9am Rise & perform business letter turn every 20 minutes
9am – 11am Let rise
11am Divide, shape, and rest
1130am Form baguette shapes & place in fridge
430pm Remove from fridge
6pm Bake

Share your thoughts below.