Daniel Catalaa

Baguette Bread

Source: This recipe is for baguettes that have a 80% hydration and are 2/3 white flour and 1/3 whole wheat or rye. If you do not have a sourdough starter yet, here are instructions on how to make one. The ingredients below are listed in order of addition.

Ingredients

  • Water, from faucet, 650 gr
  • Yeast, dry, 4 gr = 1 tsp
  • Starter culture, 300 gr
  • Flour, white, high gluten/for bread, 550 gr
  • Flour, whole or rye, 300 gr
  • Salt, 20 gr

Instructions

  1. Assemble ingredients: Place all the ingredients, except the salt, into the stand up mixer bowl. Add the water first to the mixing bowl so that ingredients do not cake to the bottom.
  2. Set up autolysis: Insert the dough hook into a stand up mixer then mix for 3-4 minutes on the lowest setting until the ingredients just combine and no more dry flour is visible. Turn off mixer and let the dought rest for 30 minutes. This step is called autolysis.
  3. Knead dough: Knead on medium-low speed (e.g. speed 2 out 10) for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt and knead for another two minutes. Moisten the tip of your fingers and perform a window pane test. If it passes the test, go on to the next step. Otherwise, continue kneading in 2 minute increments until the window pane forms without tearing.
  4. First rise: Place a kitchen towel over the mixer to prevent the top of the dough from drying out and forming a crust. Let the dough rise for 1 hour then turn on the mixer on for one minute at the lowest speed. Cover again with the kitchen towel.
  5. Second and third rises: Repeat the step above two more times. This will add up to three hours of rising for the dough.
  6. Divide dough: Gently pour the risen dough onto the work surface and cut it into 4 equal triangular portions. Gently stretch out and flatten a bit each portion to form a triangle with one of the tips facing away from you.
  7. Shape loaves: Lift the tip of the triangle furthest from you and start rolling it towards you, pinching down lightly and sealing as you go to. This step will shape the dough into a baguette and will introduce some taughtness on the skin of the loaf. Let the rolled up baguette rest for 10 minutes. Slightly flatten the baguettes and roll them onto themselves a second time with two to three folds while extending them to a length that will fit in the baking pan.
  8. Proofing: Place shaped raw baguettes on a heavily floured kitchen towel and allow to proof for 30 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven and pans: Place two upside-down baking sheets, each one on a separate rack, and a metal pan at the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 550 Fahrenheit on the convection setting.
  10. Score the loaves: Using a very sharp blade or box cutter, score three diagonal, slightly overlapping, shallow incisions (1/8 inch deep) on the top side of the loaves. Carefully slide 2 of the baguettes onto each of the very hot baking sheets.
  11. Bake bread: Place baking sheets with loaves back into the pre-heated oven. Right away pour 1 cup of room temperature water into the pan at the bottom of the oven in order to create steam. Bake for 10 minutes at 550 Fahrenheit, then lower the temperature to 350 Fahrenheit. Remove the baking sheets and rotate the loaves front to back and top to bottom. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Starter

A starter culture is a natural flavor and texture enhancer that is made in advance. To get the starter going, two weeks prior to making bread, mix together 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of yeast. As it sits in the fridge, in addition to the yeast, beneficial bacteria will also grow within the goo imparting a more complex flavor to the bread. A starter can be kept in your fridge indefinitely as long as you keep on feeding it. To do so, dump or use some of it and replace the lost volume with an equal amount of a 1:1 flour and water mixture (at least once every two weeks).

Window Pane Test

Pinch off a walnut-size piece of dough. Flatten the small dough ball into a mini-pizza disk and stretch it out. When you can stretch it out 2 inches so that the light shines through without the dough tearing it is time to stop kneading. If the pane tears as you stretch it, this means more kneading is needed. If the dough is stringy and taffy like, then it is over-kneaded and you will need to discard/compost the dough and start from scratch.