This is why I make bread!
(produces 2 kg of dough - enough for 8 short baguettes)
400g sourdough starter (60% hydration)
625g warm water
925g strong white flour
50g malted flour
- In a large bowl, add the starter to the warm water, break the starter into pieces and mix well until you have a smoothish batter. Add the flour and mix well with a spoon or dough scraper. Place the mixing bowl inside a plastic bag and leave to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Gradually add the salt, mixing or stretching the dough as you go. Now 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.
- Prepare a couche or well-floured pleated, proving cloth for your baguettes. Divide the dough into eight equal portions (about 250g each) 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 3 hours, until the loaves have almost doubled in volume.
- 1.5 hours before you are ready to bake, turn the oven on at 250oC. Just before you are ready to bake, boil some water.
- Transfer the baguettes onto a peel 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 15 minutes.