Monday, June 15, 2009

Further forays into the baguette-o-sphere.

Oh man, I've had this post sitting in draft limbo for ages. Time to set it free:

A few weeks ago, Mark Bittman linked to this baguette recipe, so of course I bookmarked it. The link is very worth checking out - he links to some excellent videos demonstrating kneading techniques. Anyways, I've used this recipe twice now and both times the baguettes came out excellent.

This recipe takes way more work than the faux-guette one that Eric Lindley hooked us up with. Will it be worth all the extra hassle? I had to change my scale's unit mode to grams, for Chrissakes!


  • 90 g sourdough starter, fermented 8 hours
  • 355 g King Arthur bread flour
  • 245 g all-purpose flour
  • 420 g water
  • 13 g sea salt
  • 2 tsp dry yeast

Note: the original Chewswise recipe calls for 590 g flour (all purpose or bread) plus 10 g whole wheat flour. The first time I made this recipe, I didn't have any whole wheat and only had 355 g of bread flour left over, so I improvised this blend instead. The second time, I did the 590 / 10 blend called for in the original recipe. Both came out and handled about the same.

Also, the original recipe calls for 100% hydration sourdough starter. I cannot say with any degree of certainty what percentage hydration my starter is: it is what it is.

Here is a gratuitous picture of the starter (from Eric Lindley's mother sponge):


Day 1

I just don't see the point of re-writing what is already pretty well-explained in the original post. Here's a simple condensation if you're too lazy to click through, although I will likely bore myself to death in the process of typing it:

1. Combine starter, yeast, and water into bowl; stir so starter breaks up.

2. Add flours and salt; mix.

3. Knead for about 5 minutes. The first time we tried this recipe, we did it by hand, using the kind of throw-it-at-the-counter-and-fold-over technique. The second time, we just did it in the stand mixer with the bread hook. The latter technique is much easier. A good compromise is to start it off in the mixer and finish it by hand.

Be warned: the dough is not very easy to handle at this stage. This is what it looks like:

4. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

5. Put dough back on the counter and stretch out until it's about 1-inch thick. Then it's letter-folding time! Fold in thirds, like you would a piece of paper you'd put in an envelope. Then fold in thirds again, the other way. Incomprehensible, you say? Whatever, watch the video.

6. Repeat steps 4 & 5.

7. Letter-fold one last time, then replace into a clean, lightly-oiled bin/bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Day 2

1. Put baking stone and steam pan in oven and preheat to 470.

2. Cut dough in half on floured surface. Place one half back in the fridge - will keep unbaked okay for a day or two.

3. Take the other half of dough and split in half again. Stretch each half into a rectangle of about 5x7 inches. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

4. Assuming you don't have a couche: while dough is resting, cut parchment paper to a size that fits your baking stone, dust with flour, and place on your peel. Tightly roll up three kitchen towels - slip these under the parchment so there are two nice nestling spots for your baguettes.

5. Now it's time to shape your dough into baguette loaves. This involves some funny maneuvers which totally escape my descriptive abilities. Luckily, there are lots of good videos on Youtube of the technique.

6. Place your shaped loaves into their nestling spots on the parchment paper. Make some slightly diagonal slashes along the tops, using a sharp knife or razorblade.

7. Remove the towels from under the parchment paper. Hopefully your oven is sufficiently heated by now. Scoot the parchment paper and loaves onto the baking stone, and then pour some hot water (about 2/3 cup) into the steam pan.

8. About 18 minutes later, your baguettes will probably be done! Take them out and let them cool on cooling racks before devouring them.

Results and Analysis

Pretty gorgeous, right? And delicious!

1 comment:

ericlindley said...

lovely! though something about the pointy shape makes me deeply uncomfortable. like they should shrivel and curl under dorothy's house.