This week I am going to perfect my baguette game and #BakeBaguettes until I get it right. I am making this part of have taken the #SourdoughChallenge to bake something new every day as we practice #StaySafe #StayHome.
For me, kitchen traditions are my best escape and since I love baking I am at it just about every day now. Personally I get a great deal of satisfaction in bread making and I find it comforting to bake something new and challenging now more than ever. Especially when I can use a long, slow ferment with traditional sourdough (rather than commercial yeast) to build flavor in the bread I make.
Even so, baking one of my go-to recipes like sourdough baguettes leaves me feeling “grounded in the present,” as Posie Brien wrote in her “Sunday Recipe Inspiration.” She continued, “it makes me feel strong and empowered to be able to feed myself and my family.”
Wow! Posie has captured my feeling exactly. But I want to take it one step further with this #SourdoughChallenge try lots of new recipes. I will try to post one every day to encourage you to do the same.
Yesterday, I baked my second batch of baguettes in two days and had a couple as a reward for my daughter who did our shopping. I have been sharing ideas with neighbors and others by text and email.
These are our neighbor’s and they look better than mine.
My stone-baked baguettes were a bit too crowded to look like the real thing, but they were crusty and tasted great.
One neighbor is trying to perfect his baguette skills, so I left him my container of semolina, some parchment, and my baguette pan on our front porch swing so that he would have the tools to succeed at his #SourdoughChallenge. I let him know by email they were waiting for him there. And he came by a few minutes later to borrow them. Then we went back and forth showing each other our progress.
I think his look better, but he did have my baguette pan. But he said his were too crunchy. Have you ever had bread that was too crusty?
Mine were baked on a stone and the long ferment that left them with the best flavor I have ever made so far. As for crusty, mine are cracklin-hard and perfect for my taste.
Activate the starter 6 to 12 hours before making the dough
In a medium bowl, combine the starter, lukewarm water, and flour.
Completely mix the ingredients into the starter.
Loosely cover and let sit on the counter until ready to use.
1 cup (126 g) sourdough starter
3 cup (360 g) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup (120 g) whole-grain whole-wheat flour
1⅓ cups (311 g) room temperature filtered water
2 teaspoons Real salt
1 cup ice cubes
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, stir together the active starter, bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and tepid water until the flour is completely mixed into the dough.
Let sit for 20 minutes so the flour can get fully hydrated.
Attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the salt, and knead the dough on low speed for 5 minutes, (or 10 minutes by hand).
The dough will be “shaggy,” but using a flexible dough scraper stretch-and-fold the dough, scraping from the bottom, up and over the top. Turn the bowl and repeat. Continue this process for a total of three bowl turns.
Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour. Repeat the stretch-and-fold for three bowl turns, re-cover, and let rest for 1 hour more.
Place a piece of plastic on the dough, pressing it down onto the top of the dough so it won’t dry out. Over the top of the bowl with another piece of plastic to keep the air out. Refrigerate the dough overnight.
Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and remove all the plastic wrap. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Let sit for 1 hour to warm some.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Flour a clean work surface and put the dough on it. Shape each piece into a log about 1 foot long. Tuck the ends under and then roll, flat-handed, until the loaf is even and smooth all around. Try to make the logs about the same size. Flour the tops of the bread dough loaves and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let the loaves proof for 30 minutes, or until they double in size.
Place a large rimmed sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven and set a baking stone* on the rack above it, making sure the pan is large enough to extend out farther on one side of the stone. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Using a bread lame or very sharp knife, slash each loaf. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper slightly smaller than the baking stone. Place the loaves on the paper.
Using oven gloves, carefully slide the parchment with the bread onto the baking stone.
Quickly and carefully put the ice in the pan below the baking stone (do not get any on the stone, as it may crack or break). Quickly close the oven door to allow the ice to melt and, almost immediately, turn to steam.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and bake for 25 minutes. Then remove from the oven to completely cool.
* If you don’t have a stone, you can bake these loaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Trying to get a good shape on my baguettes is a challenge any time, but especially for the #SourdoughChallenge. I hope this short video will help you as much as it did me.
Tell us if you are taking the #SourdoughChallenge share what you have been baking in the comment section below.
AUTHOR: DARRYL ALDER, RETIRED SCOUTER AND OUTDOORSMAN, WHO SPENT TOO MANY HOURS OVER A CAMPFIRE USING A DUTCH OVEN, AND LOVES SHARING RECIPES FOR THE KITCHEN AND THE CAMPFIRE.