Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sourdough French Baguette

Update 11/3/2014 - This was my first attempt at baking a baguette. Since then I have improved a lot. This is the post with my latest attempt.

When I saw baguette as the Bread Baking Day challenge for this month I thought I would repeat a recipe I had tried a couple months back. I had not gotten good pictures back then and so had never blogged it. As it turned out I baked my first sourdough bread (baguette) with my new sourdough starter.


Just over 10 days ago I decided to experiment on a new sourdough starter. The cool temperatures affected the starter inducing it to grow rather slowly. Last night the overnight temperature was mild and the starter had a sudden growth spurt. It overflowed from its jar and was alive, active and bubbly.


I had to switch the starter to maintenance mode which requires reducing its volume. Half of the original starter was feed and refrigerated. I was left with a third of a cup of very active starter that I could either throw away or use in some way. I was planning on baking baguettes today so I figured I could try sourdough baguettes instead.


I assumed I would have to proof the dough overnight but the starter exceeded all expectations and I had the final dough ready to be baked by 10 pm. I am rather proud of this bread as it is leavened entirely with wild yeast. It tastes great too. I am sure as the starter ages it will develop more flavor so I will try this bread again in a few months. Today I am submitting it as my entry for the BBD baguette challenge.



You will need
For the Proofing
1 cup bread flour
1 cup water
1/3 cup sourdough starter

For the dough
1 cup bread flour
2 tsp. salt

In a bowl combine the proofing ingredients and keep aside until bubbly. This could be several hours depending upon your starter, the temperature in your kitchen and the humidity.


Add the dough ingredients to the bowl and form a dough. It will be soft and just a little sticky. Knead until it stops sticking to the sides of the pan. Roll it in your greased palm and place in the bowl. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes. Stretch and fold over the dough a couple times. Roll into a ball and keep aside for another 10 minutes. Repeat the stretch and fold.


This time cover and keep aside until doubled. This could take a several hours.


Transfer the dough to a floured working surface. Divide into two portions. Flatten one portion. Fold over a third of the dough. Fold over again and seal the ends. Now using the side of your hand make a groove in the center of the dough along the length. Bring together the two sides over this seam and seal.


Place the sealed edge on the bottom and using cupped hands roll the dough gently to lengthen it to the desired length and thickness. Place on a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Repeat with the other portion of dough.


Keep this shaped bread covered for an hour and a half to allow it to get very puffy. Towards the end of the rise period preheat oven to 450 F. Slash the dough using a serrated knife as shown in the picture. This allows the trapped air to escape.


Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.


Enjoy!

Note:
For crustier bread, preheat oven to 500 F. Place the baguette in the oven and reduce the temperature to 450 F. A bowl of water placed in the lower rack of the oven for the first 5 minutes of the bake also helps form crustier bread.

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