Baguettes!

Baguettes may offer the most versatility of any bread. Perfect with butter. Great for bruschetta. Works well with hummus or baba ganoush. Making them at home is easier than it sounds and fills the house with a wonderful baked bread smell…something you can’t pick up at the bakery.

My baguette journey started a few years ago when I purchased a sourdough starter from King Arthur’s.

They send you an ounce of this odd looking culture of bacteria that arrives hungry and needs to be fed.  To do so you simply mix it with equal parts of flour and water. After a few hours you will see the starter bubbling and growing, and after twelve hours you have a ripe starter! Fortunately it stores well in the refrigerator and does not need constant attention.

The recipe I use comes from a blog I found on The Fresh Loaf. The dough is sticky to the touch and can be frustrating to handle until you get used to it, but the results are worth it!

I make these baguettes a couple of weekends a month now.  This weekend we had a few friends over, so I doubled the recipe to get three baguettes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz starter, ripe or straight from the refrigerator
  • 10.95 oz all purpose flour
  • 6.6 oz water
  • .25 oz salt

Instructions:

1. Mix all of the ingredients into a shaggy mess and let rest 30 minutes.

2. Fold with a spatula roughly 30 times. Repeat 2 more times at 30 minute intervals.

3. Let dough rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours. Fold.

4. Let dough rest for another 2 hours.

5. Pre-shape dough and let rest 15 minutes.

6. Shape the dough for baking.  To do this, I press down the long side of the dough and then flip it over itself with a scrapper.

7. Transfer dough to pans and let proof an hour or so. Halfway through the proofing, preheat oven to 475 degrees.

8. Place a pan of hot water in the lower rack of the oven to create a steam oven.

9. With a serrated knife, make two or three cuts length-wise to the dough.

10. Bake for about 20 minutes. I normally spray the dough with a water bottle just after the enter the oven.  I also rotate the pan halfway through. You will see a nice oven spring within the first few minutes:

Oven spring just after a few minutes!

And the finished product…

The baguettes have nice air pockets inside and a nice crust on the outside!

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