Baguettes! I have a love/hate relationship with them. When I first attempted them, I got baguette pancakes, squiggly baguettes, pale baguettes, and other various mutations of the elusive perfect product from French boulangeries.
I've got to say, I'm really excited about these. Browned crackly and crispy crust, holey interior, and an amazing flavor from two to three days of fermentation make these my favorite baguettes so far.
Bread nerd alert: One of the secret ingredients in this recipe is diastatic malt powder. You can make these baguettes without it, but it helps make them better.
One of the reasons this ingredient is helpful is that it works with a long fermentation. Yeast pretty much eats up a lot of the sugar in the dough during the hours that the dough rises, so the diastatic malt powder helps the dough achieve a nice caramelization during the bake. Diastatic malt powder (as opposed to non diastatic malt powder, which is basically a sugar) is enzymatically active, and will help feed the yeast while the dough ferments.
Some of the other techniques I used to make these baguettes included adding a bit of sifted whole wheat flour, where the bran is sifted out of the whole wheat to add flavor... (fancy, right?), and the bran is discarded....
as well as using a pizza peel, parchment paper, a flipping board, a couche, and a lame (pronounced "lahm"). The lame is used for slashing the loaves. I made my lames from coffee stirrers and razor blades... way more economical. I've learned that if you spray them with spray oil, they will slide more easily through the dough.
If buying flipping boards seems a bit too bread geeky, you can easily fashion them out of cardboard and shipping tape.
The other magic tools to make these loaves are double stacked and inverted disposable baking pans. Get a couple of 14 inch by 16 inch versions of these pans and top your baking stone with them to trap steam! This helps create an amazing crust.
If I could just get some "ears" and those pointy ends that the French boulangeries achieve. It's good to have goals!
I used these loaves to make these French dip sandwiches. So good.
Makes 4 baguettes. Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, September/October 2014
42 g (1/4 C) whole wheat flour
427 g (3 C) bread flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp diastatic malt powder
12 ounces water
- Into the bowl of a stand mixer, sift the whole wheat flour with a strainer to remove the bran. Add the bread flour, salt, yeast, diastatic malt powder, and water.
- Knead with the dough hook on low for about 7 minutes.
- Add the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Beginning at 30 minutes, do a stretch-and-fold of the dough by folding it over itself from all four "sides" twice. Re-cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 30 more minutes. Do three more "stretch-and-folds," every 30 minutes, for 4 total times.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 24 to 72 hours.
- Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter and shape it gently into and 8 inch square. Divide the dough in half with a bench scraper. Return half of the dough to the refrigerator to be baked later.
- Divide the remaining dough in half, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for for 45 minutes.
- On a lightly floured counter, roll each piece of dough into a 4 inch cylinder. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for another 30 minutes.
- Dust a couche with a mixture of wheat and rice flour.
- Take one of the pieces of dough and press it gently into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle. Fold the upper side over to the middle and press to seal. Fold the bottom toward the middle and seal. You should have a 8 inch by 2 inch rectangle.
- Fold the dough again, in half, and fold one more time, pressing with the heel of your hand to gently create a seam.
- Using your hands, beginning with the middle of the cylinder, roll the dough out to create a 15 inch long log.
- Place the log onto the couche, seam side up, and create folds on either side of the dough to prop it up. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Wrap the rest of the couche over the dough and cover with plastic wrap.
- Let rise for about 45 to 60 minutes, while preheating the oven with a baking stone to 500 degrees F.
- Line a pizza peel with parchment. Using a flipping board, move the loaves to the peel, seam side down. Use the flipping board to straighten the baguette.
- Slash the loaves with the lame at a 30 degree angle, with 3 four inch long slashes.
- Transfer the loaves, parchment and all, to the baking stone. Spray the inside of the disposable pan with water, and top the loaves.
- Bake with the disposable pans covering the loaves for 8 minutes. Remove the pans, and bake for an additional 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
- I shaped and baked the other two loaves on the same day.
- Chocolate Malt Baked Donuts from The Redhead Baker
- Chocolate Malt Sweet Rolls from HostessAtHeart
- Danish seeded rye bread with malted flour from The Bread She Bakes
- Demi Baguettes from Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Fruit and Malt Loaf from Cake Duchess
- Laugenbrezel from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Malted Guinness Beer Bread from girlichef
- Strawberry and Date Malted Loaf from Cheap Ethnic Eatz