FRENCH BAGUETTE, inspired by Cook's Illustrated
The “levain” starter needs to be made 2-4 days in advance of using. In order to make this recipe, there are some specific tools that will help with the final outcome as suggested by Cook’s Illustrated. They are: a lame, cutting tool; flipping board; flax linen bread clouch; baguette forming pan; and foil disposable roasting pan that covers the bread pan.
- 18 1/2 ounces of levain
- 1 pound organic all-purpose flour
- 8 ounces organic wheat flour (sifted to remove bran and make it smoother)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 9 ounces water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons malt powder
In a large bowl sift enough wheat flour to weigh out 8 ounces of sifted flour. Discard particles left in sifter. Blend this with all-purpose flour, sea salt and malt powder and whisk to combine well. Set aside.
In mixing bowl add the levain, yeast and warm water and blend with a hook attachment. Let rest for 5 minutes until the yeast becomes active–when you see a small amount of bubbling on the surface. When yeast is proven to be active, add in the flour mixture to the wet mixture. With dough hook on mix on low speed till dough comes together, then turn mixer to medium speed and mix for 4 minutes.
Remove dough from mixing bowl and put into a large metal bowl and cover with plastic wrap and store in a warm place. After one hour fold the dough into thirds as you would a business letter then fold in half crosswise. Return to the bowl and cover. Repeat this step every hour for 2-4 hours. Remove dough onto a lightly floured surface, being careful not to punch dough down so as not to remove air trapped inside.
Divide into 4-5 equal pieces; roughly 8-10 ounces apiece. Carefully shape into a rectangle 5×9 inches; take the top of the long side of the rectangle and gently fold onto it self like you would a jelly roll, pressing into itself each time you fold over. When the end is reached seal the end and begin rolling the dough on the ends with your hands to shape a torpedo with tapered ends. When all the pieces are rolled out, place onto floured linen bread couche* and create small cradles of material in between each loaf. When all the loaves are on the proofing cloth, cover with plastic and rest overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Take loaves out of the refrigerator and remove the plastic. Using a bread flipping board, flip the loaves onto the a baguette forming pan. Let come to room temperature; about 10 to 30 minutes, until the dough is fully proofed. Cut 3 straight stripes lengthwise down each baguette using the lame cutting tool. Spray with water and cover with disposable foil roasting pan. Place int preheated oven. In five minutes, remove foil pan cover. Close oven door. After another 7 minutes, rotate the bread forming pan, and continue to baking 5 minutes more or until the internal temperature of loaf reaches 205°F. Once removed from oven, take loaves off the forming pan and put on cooling racks to cool completely.
*Bakers couche–flax linen proofing cloth 26 inch x 35 inch