Less stretching & folding, less wet, less steps, but you do need a mixer for this one…
This method is easier, the recipe has less steps, the dough is less wet than our 80% hydration baguette recipe, and yet this one also yields wonderful baguettes. If you were to compare the two recipes you could say this easy version has a little less depth of flavor and the holes in the crumb are less impressive, but it is also less laborious and less sticky (saves you 2 hours on baking day). The flavors are actually very much comparable and eaten in combination with other foods like cheese it will be hard to notice much difference in taste.
We think this recipe offers a great place to start for the novice baguette baker. Still, it is not at all the easiest of bread recipes to master, but it is one every home baker wants to have as part of his baking repertoire. And we are confident this recipe will also give you very satisfying results.
So lets start baking! But before we do, you may want to check out our baguette video Watch it here…
And our tips for bread scoring with confidence and handling wet dough may also come in handy.
Last but not least do not forget to stop by our baguette log and follow our baguette baking progress and learn from our experiences and mistakes!
This is what the active poolish looks like
|Ingredients for the poolish
|wheat (bread) flour
|cold water (straight from the tap)
|instant yeast* (we use twice the amount in winter when temps are low!)
|Ingredients for the baguettes
|1 batch makes 4 baguettes
|the poolish from step 1
|wheat (bread) flour
|water at room temperature
* In winter our bakery is between 16ºC / 61ºF and 18ºC / 65ºF, so we use more yeast to get the poolish going. In summer the average temperature is between 21ºC / 70ºF and 25ºC / 77 ºF so we can use less yeast to get the same result. So take the temperature of your surroundings into account to determine your amount of yeast.
Making the poolish
In a bowl stir together 380 grams of bread flour with 380 grams of cold water with the yeast (see above). Mix until you have a consistency that looks like dough-like batter. Cover the bowl and leave for 12 hours at room temperature. So if you want to begin your baguette baking in the morning, you can make your poolish the evening before.
Making the baguettes
In the bowl of your standing mixer, combine the poolish with the other ingredients and knead for 6 minutes. Cover and leave to rest for 40 minutes. Now turn out the mass onto your work surface and stretch and fold, doing two to three sets of letter folds (one set = right over left, left over right, bottom over top, top over bottom) depending on how well your dough cooperates. Stop if the dough is not willing to stretch anymore. Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover and again leave to rest for 40 minutes.
Turn out the dough and stretch and fold a second time, doing one to two sets of letter folds.
Directly after the stretch and fold, divide the dough in 4 equal parts. Now you are going to pre-shape the dough parts one by one by carefully stretching the corners, making a rectangle of each of the 4 pieces, and rolling them up. Try to make your rectangle and roll as even as possible without fussing too much with the dough. Use enough flour to handle the dough, but try to keep it to a minimum. Cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes so the gluten can relax.
Preheat your oven to 240ºC / 465ºF (at what stage you preheat your oven depends on how long it takes for your oven to heat through, some take 30 minutes, some, like ours, with stone floors take a lot longer, up to two hours.)
Take a roll of the pre-shaped dough and sprinkle it with a little flour and softly press it into a rectangle with a short and a long side. The more even the rectangle the nicer the baguette will look in the end. With a dough scraper make sure the dough is not stuck to your work surface with the help of a little bit of flour.
With a dough scraper, flip 1/3 of the long side onto itself and press down the seam, with the heel of your hand, to get some tension on the outside of the dough, now repeat it two more times until you have a roll shape. Make a rolling motion with your hands from the center to the sides with a soft touch to make the baguette longer and to try and make nice pointy ends on both sides of the baguette.
This baguette shaping video on the King Arthur Flour website by Jeffrey Hamelman is really worth a closer look if you are in need of more baguette shaping support.
Practice makes perfect, do not be hard on yourself, it is not an easy job, even with this slightly less sticky dough, compared to the 80% hydration we use for our other baguette recipe.
Place the baguettes in a couche / proofing cloth made of linen or in a baguette pan, or something of your own invention, but make sure the baguettes have enough side support to hold their shape. Cover them and leave to proof for 35 minutes.
Baguettes resting in their couches (beds) made of thick proofing linen
To check if the baguettes are ready, dip your finger in some flour and gently poke your dough.
- If the hole disappears completely: under-proofed
- If the hole dent pops half way back out: proofing is just right
- If the hole stays entirely dented in: over-proofed
Score the top of the baguettes with a lame/bread scoring tool. Cut as straight along the long axis of the loaf as possible. Mentally divide the baguette into lengthwise thirds, and keep the cuts within the middle third. Overlap the cuts by about one third of their length, while holding the knife at a 30 degree angle. Also check out this very useful video on proper baguette scoring.
Do not use this steam generating method with your normal household oven! Check our oven tips first
Bake in the preheated oven for 27 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
To get a nice crust, try to create some steam in your oven by putting a small metal baking tray on your oven floor when you preheat the oven and pouring in half a cup of hot water immediately after putting the bread in the oven. Release some steam by setting your oven door ajar 5 minutes before the bread is ready. If you are going to create steam with a baking tray, you maybe also want to turn your oven temperature a bit higher, because you are going to lose some heat in the process.
Baguette time table
00:00 Mix ingredients 6 minutes
40 minute rest
00:46 – 2-3 letter folds
40 minute rest
01:26 – 1-2 letter fold + divide + pre-shape
10 minute rest
01:41 – shape + proof
35 minutes final proofing
02:20 – into the oven
Baking time 27 minutes
02:47 – take out and leave to cool
The crumb: the holes are slightly less impressive compared to the 80% hydration recipe, but still very nice texture and taste!
If you are looking for couches / proofing linen for baguettes, we have really good ones made from 100% French bakers linen in our Weekend Bakery web shop!