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French Baguette

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Recipe adopted from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery.  [Recipe makes (2) 24-inch baguettes or (4) 12-inch baguettes].

Similar to the croissant post from last month, legit baguettes have been on my list for quite a while, but have been put on hold due to too many unsuccessful trials.  Ever since I got Keller's baking cookbook for Christmas though, I've been able to get the confidence and motivation back and try some of these advanced baking recipes that have been on my list.  I'm proud to announce that just like the croissants, Keller's precise recipes, extremely detailed instructions, and gorgeous step-by-step pictures have turned this overdue trial into a success.

I still have to work on my shaping (I could go a little thinner next time) as well as figure out how to build a baking stone that's big enough for a pair of 24-inch baguettes, but the appearance, texture, and taste were definitely what I'd been hoping to achieve.

INGREDIENTS:

146 grams (~1 cup plus 4 teaspoons) all-purpose flour
A pinch of instant yeast
146 grams (~1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) water, 75° F

437 grams (~3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
0.9 grams (~1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
279 grams (~1 cup plus 3 1/2 tablespoons) water, 75° F
12 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

The night before you plan on making the baguettes, make the poolish by mixing together the initial flour, yeast, and water.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 15 hours.  You'll know it's ready to use the next day if it's bubbly and just starting to cave in at the center.

The next day, add the yeast and flour to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the hook attachment, just to disperse the yeast evenly.  Add the poolish and water and mix on low for 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides if needed, and add the salt.  Mix for 20 minutes on low.  If the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, as most doughs do, add just enough water to loosen up the dough and prevent a ball from forming.

Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let it rest for an hour, and then transfer it to a lightly floured work surface.  Carefully shape the dough to a rectangular shape.  Stretch the left side of the dough and fold it over two-thirds of the dough.  Stretch the right side of the dough and fold over the original folded dough, just as you would fold a letter.  Repeat this with the top and bottom of the dough as well.  Transfer the dough back to the greased bowl, seam-side down, and cover.  Repeat this proofing and folding technique two more times.  After the third proofing is done, remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two equal balls if you're doing standard 24-inch baguettes, or four balls of dough if you're doing smaller 12-inch baguettes.  Cover, and let them rest for 15 minutes before shaping into bâtards.

For the shaping of the baguettes, refer to the following video.


Once your bâtards are shaped, cover with a plastic tub (or similar container) and let proof for an hour.  At this time, preheat your oven to 460° F with a baking stone on the middle rack.

After the hour is up, score the tops of each loaf with a lame or a sharp razor.  When you're ready to bake, carefully transfer your bâtards to a pizza peel or directly to the oven using a stiff piece of cardboard or a flipping board.  Once they're in the oven, spray some water into the oven to help get a crisp crust.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned and an internal temperature of 200° is met.  Let the baguettes cool on a wire rack before slicing into.

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4 comments

  1. Wow, nice job! Now if you really want to eat a baguette the French way, cut one of those beauties open and spread on Nutella. Either that or consume with French cheese...

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    1. Thanks! I'll have to give that a try...there's a few left in the freezer :)

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  2. Hi TJ. I have had great luck using unglazed stone tiles from the building supply store in my area. I got 2, 12 inch tiles and they pretty much cover the surface of the rack in the oven as well as holding two bagettes. Also, the store gave them to me free!

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    1. Kathy, that sounds like it might be the perfect solution! I'll have to check that out; thanks :)

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