I have not had the best of luck baking baguettes. They get all squiggly when I move them to the stone and they collapse when I slash them. I try to put a positive spin on it. "While they don't look that great, they sure are tasty!"
I posted one of my attempts using Julia Child's French bread recipe. Everything went well until it came time to slash the dough. Pfffft.
I can rock an amazing sourdough boule, make the perfect focaccia, take two days to make croissants, make killer tangzhong, crank out a marbled rye while I'm doing six loads of laundry, but I can't make the perfect baguette with those lovely slashes.
An amazing thing happened. One of the members of the bread blogging community found this post about cold fermented dough on my blog and gave it a try... and loved it... yay! What's even better, she decided to take the dough and create lovely rustic baguettes. This I can do! No slashing involved.
These baguettes are amazingly flavorful. Excellent dipped in olive oil and balsamic, slathered with butter, or sliced lengthwise to make an awesome sandwich. And the holes.... the holy grail of artisan bread bakers.
Pain à l’Ancienne Baguettes
Makes four baguettes.
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 C cold bottled water
1 tsp salt
567 g bread flour
1 T olive oil
- Add the ingredients to a large bowl and stir for about 2 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and give it a "stretch and fold." (See the video in this post for a demonstration).
- Place the dough seam side down into a new large oiled bowl.
- Let the dough sit for 10 minutes and repeat three more times, every ten minutes. There should be a total of four "stretch and folds."
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for one to four days. These baguettes were made after three days.
- About one to three hours before you are ready to bake, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it sit, covered.
- Gently scrape the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface (I used granite).
- Cut the dough into four pieces.
- Stretch the four pieces into rectangles and then fold them into thirds, like envelopes.
- Spray them with spray oil and cover them loosely with plastic wrap.
- Let them sit for an hour, stretch them into rectangles again, and refold them like envelopes.
- Let them sit again for an hour, covered lightly with plastic wrap.
- Fold them for the third time and cover.
- Prepare your oven for steam by placing a baking stone on the second lowest rack and a broiling pan on the lowest rack (you can also use a baking sheet if you don't have a baking stone) and preheat to the highest temperature your oven will go (usually 500 to 550 F). Bring one cup of water to a boil.
- Spray a heavy duty piece of parchment with spray oil and place it on top of a pizza peel.
- When your oven is ready. dust the four dough pieces with flour and stretch and the pieces out to about 18 inches (or the length of your baking stone) and twist it a bit. Place each piece parallel on the parchment.
- Drag the parchment, with the dough, onto the stone, dump the cup of water into the broiler pan, and close the oven door and bake for 10 minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. The baguettes should be golden brown.
- Cool on a rack.
Best baguettes ever!