Saturday, January 19, 2013


I am currently in the middle of a major overhaul of my blog, which involves reviewing every post to date, adding measurements where none are given, converting imperial measurements to metric, adding labels, tidying up the writing and, most important of all, killing off any dud entries. One post which bit the dust was a complicated recipe for baguettes that I seemed to remember had produced good results but that, on revisiting, was frankly fussy and looked suspiciously low on yeast. It uses a poolish or pre-fermented batter to add flavour and texture.

Ingredients (produces 1.8 kg of dough - enough for 8 short baguettes)
for the poolish
2g instant yeast
240g warm water
240g strong white flour
for the dough
460g warm water
5g instant yeast
835g strong white flour
20g salt

  1. To make the poolish, in a large mixing bowl, dissolve 2g of instant yeast in 240g of warm water, add 240g of strong white flour, and mix very well. Place the bowl instide a plastic bag, and leave in fridge overnight. (If you are in a hurry, leave for 4 hours at room temperature instead.)
  2. The next day, remove the poolish from the fridge. To the mixing bowl, add 460g of water and 5g of instant yeast. Mix very well so that you have a fairly smooth batter, then add 835g of strong white flour, and mix well. Return the bowl to the bag and leave to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Gradually add the salt. EITHER work the dough by hand on a non-porous surface for 10 minutes, put the dough back into the mixing bowl, place bowl inside a plastic bag and leave to rest at room temperature for 2 hours OR stretch and fold the dough in the bowl at 10 minute intervals for 1 hour (placing the bowl inside the bag while resting), then leave to rest at room temperature for a further 1 hour.
  4. Place the baking stone in the oven, and set the oven to 250oC. Prepare a couche or well-floured pleated, proving cloth for your baguettes. Divide the dough into eight equal portions (about 200 to 220g each)
  5. Form each of the portions into a baguette as follows: (a) on a lightly floured surface, form the dough into a long flat rectangle, fold both sides in to the middle, and press firmly at the seams; (b) fold the dough lengthwise towards you to form a long log, then pinch the dough gently all along the seam, twisting it slightly as you go; (c) roll the dough lightly with your hands to form a rope the right length to fit your couche and oven; (d) transfer to the couche, cover and leave to prove at room temperature for about 1.5 hours, until the loaves have almost doubled in volume.
  6. Just before you are ready to bake, boil some water. Transfer the baguettes onto a peel or cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with fine polenta, slash, and transfer them to the hot oven. Pour about a cup of the boiling water into the oven tray and quickly spray the sides and door of the oven with water to create steam, close oven, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
unproved baguettes on couche

proved baguettes on couche

slashed baguettes on peel

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