French Baguettes

27 Dec

Being a lover of ALL types of breads, I really have become quite fascinated with making my own. This week I went rather hardcore and decided to tackle the french baguette. Some say that the french baguette is a true test of a bakers skill. I could not help but think that I have bitten off more than I could chew!

Fortunately for me, there are plenty of great resources to find on the internet to hone my baking skills. I have found the one-stop-shopping place for all great artisan breads. Artisan Bread Baking. The site is a tremendous resource for beginner to intermediate at home bakers. So a special thanks to Barry Harmon for doing all the hard work and making this “easy” for the novice baker!

All measurements here are in metric. I found it much easier for weights and measures to do it is metric vs. standard. I lose patience with the fractions. You will need a food scale for this recipe also!

So I started bright and early on Saturday morning (using this recipe and method it requires a bit more than 7 hours start to finish!) with making my pre-ferment, which is called a poolish. The purpose of using a poolish,or a pre-ferment, is to have a portion of the bread dough that has already undergone some of the fermentation.

Poolish

Ingredients

  • 285 g Bread Flour
  • 285 g warm water
  • 1 g dry yeast

Method

1. Mix up all ingredients into a loose slurry and then let it sit, covered, on the counter for  2 or 3 hours before you use it.

Poolish
My Poolish after about 1 hour of fermentation
After my poolish was ready, I was now anxious to start my bread dough. I prepared my KitchenAid, attached the dough hook and added the following to the mixing bowl:
 

Ingredients

(updated 12/28/2011 – corrected amounts based on full poolish)

  • 565 g organic bread flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 225 g water (again use pure spring water)
  • 22 g kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons (6 g) of dry yeast

Method

  1. Add yeast and water to the mixing bowl. Mix up for a minute or two, then add salt, your poolish (pre-ferment) and flour. Mix for two minutes, then let rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Knead using dough hook for 7 minutes ( I use speed 2 on mixer). The result should be a firm, slightly sticky dough.

    First Kneading

    After the First Kneading

  3. Remove the dough hook and cover. Let it rise for 45 minutes.

    First Fermentation

    After the first fermentation

  4. Perform a fold of the dough using the dough hook. This is simply letting the dough hook fall into the dough to de-gas it, then turning on the mixer on low speed and giving it about 4 revolutions. Remove the dough hook and turn the dough over and perform the same manuever again.
  5. Remove the dough hook, cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
  6. Repeat the dough hook fold once again. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let rise another 30 minutes.

    Final Fermentation

    After the final fermentation

  7. Remove from the bowl, repeat the fold again and place the dough on the counter and let it rest for 10 minutes under a towel (do not flour!).
  8. Divide the dough into 4 separate 400 g portions, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes under a moist towel.
  9. Shape into baguettes (Learn how to shape here!)
  10. I placed my formed baguettes on the countertop on lightly greased baking sheets and let them rise for 45 minutes covered with a moist towel.

    Shaped Baguettes

    My Shaped Baguettes!

  11. Heat oven to 440F.  (The original recipe calls to use baking stones, since I do not have any, I did not do this step, they turned out just fine without them!)
  12. Provide steam in the oven by placing a pan of water on the bottom of the oven (this will give it the nice crunchy crust!).
  13. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate the loaves to equalize baking.
  14. Bake until done about 32 minutes total time, since all ovens are different, recommended internal temperature is 195-200F.
  15. Turn the oven off and let the loaves sit in the cooling oven for 5 minutes.
  16. Remove the loaves from the oven!
 

Fresh Baguettes

Fresh from the oven!

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8 Responses to “French Baguettes”

  1. Jay December 27, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    I can taste the hot crusty bread just warm from the oven! Great inspiration to bake some bread! Jay

    • cjdelgrosso December 28, 2011 at 12:00 am #

      It was sooooo good! It is all gone! 4 baguettes eaten in 4 days. We made moletes last night for dinner with the last baguette.

  2. Travis December 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm #

    Those look perfect! The metrics idea sounds pretty difficult to me,though! Great Blog!

    • cjdelgrosso December 29, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      It seems so, but it is actually much more simple. Especially when you are reducing or increasing the recipe! Just use a food scale and set it to metric.

  3. Sandra December 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Always wanted to try and make bread! Ummm……

    • cjdelgrosso December 30, 2011 at 12:12 am #

      Thank you! I have always wanted to make bread also! It seemed a bit foreboding, but it was quite simple actually, it just takes patience and the right equipment!

  4. Choc Chip Uru March 13, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    These look a lot better than store bought! Can’t believe you have such a wonderful recipe for them 😀
    Bookmarked!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Rcih Sticky Date Pudding w/ Butterscotch Sauce

    • cjdelgrosso March 13, 2012 at 11:56 am #

      Thanks for the kind words! Anything you make with your own hands is infinitly better than store bought goods!

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