Bread is good, crusty bread is even better. Baguette is the king of crusty breads as it offers one of the best crust to dough ratios which is why I adore it.
This recipe is inspired by the baking chin an awesome you-tuber with some great bread ideas, however where he uses sourdough I use a poolish.
This recipe is perfect for a lazy puttering about the house saturday with the added bonus of some tasty bread by the end of it.
For the Poolish
- 100g strong white bread flour
- 100g warm water
- 0.5g dried yeast
The poolish (also called a sponge) is essentially a quick sourdough adding much of the flavour but with no commitment to feed a sourdough baby. Ideally this should be prepared the night before the bake, but it can be prepared on the day at least 4 hrs in advance.
Preparation is simple, mix all the ingredients together well. If preparing the night before place in the fridge, otherwise place in a warm place for 4 to 7 hours.
The poolish is ripe and ready when you get lots of bubbles breaking the surface.
The yield from this recipe is 3 medium sized baguettes.
What you knead
- 500g strong white bread flour
- 100g ripe poolish
- 12g salt
- 2g fast action dried yeast
- 350ml water.
Mix all the dry ingredients together, make sure not to add the salt directly on top of the yeast as this retards it. Add the poolish and water and mix until well combined.
Allow the dough to rest for about 10mins, this helps the dough absorb the water and makes it easier to knead. Once rested knead the dough on a well oiled surface for about 15 mins.
Put the dough into an oiled vessel cover and leave to prove for 2 hours. I like to put some cling film over before I put the lid on to ensure no heat is lost. After 45mins fold in the four corners of the dough into the center. Repeat this after another 45mins. By the ending of the proving period you should have a smooth shiny dough.
Now it’s time to shape the dough. Do not knock back your dough, the slow prove and high water content have created a crumb structure with uneven bubbles, which we want for baguettes. If you knock it back you redistribute these bubbles and get a more even crumb.
Split the dough into 3 equal pieces. On a well floured surface shape the dough into rough tube pieces. Flatten each piece into a rough rectangular shape and proceed with the following steps:
- Fold the top edge over into the centre of the dough
- Repeat for the bottom edge, use the heel of your palm to create a valley where they join
- Roll the new top edge over the new bottom edge and seal with fingertips. Roll the dough from the center outwards to stretch the dough out to the desired length. (Tip: use your baking tray as a measurement)
I don’t have a fancy baguette proving tray so I used a well floured cotton tea towel, a rolling pin and a wine bottle to help the dough keep its shape.
Leave to prove covered with another tea towel for 30mins.
The slash and bake
While the dough is proving, preheat the oven with the baking tray to 230C.
Once you are ready to bake slash the dough with a sharp knife or blade. Do this in a quick motion. I like my slashes almost vertical.
Carefully place the dough onto the preheated baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for 20 to 25mins.
For the Artisan bread look sprinkle the top of the dough with some flour before baking.
For a super crunchy crust, introduce some steam into the bake in the first 10mins of baking. You can do this by pouring boiling water into a tray placed below.
And there you have it, beautiful crusty homemade baguettes.
Until next time kitchens…