Baker Bettie’s Baguettes

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I keep trying new recipes and I like this one a lot.  I decided to brine the breads right before they went in the oven and it was delicious.

DIRECTIONS

Poolish
89g bread flour
89g water slightly warm (about 90 F)
1g quick rise yeast

Dough
209g bread flour
62g all-purpose flour
163g water, slightly warm (about 90 F)
1g quick rise yeast
6g Kosher salt

Brine
3g kosher salt
40g warm water

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the Poolish:
The night before making your baguettes or at least 6 hours before, make the poolish. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the poolish. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for at least 6 hours, but preferably 8-10 hours.

Combine the Dough:
In the morning, add the rest of the ingredients for the baguette dough into the bowl with the poolish. Stir until well combined. It will appear as if there is not enough liquid at first, but as you work it together it will become a sticky dough. You may need to use your hands to knead it slightly to hydrate all the flour. As soon as all of the flour is hydrated and you have a shaggy dough with no dry spots, cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let it set at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Stretch and Fold:
After the dough has rested for 30 minutes, you will do a series of three stretch and folds with the dough. With the dough still in the bowl, lightly dampen your hand (this will prevent the dough from sticking) and pull on one side of the dough and stretch it up and then fold it down over the top of the dough. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and do the same with the next side. Do this again until you have stretched all four sides of the dough up and over on itself. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 30 more minutes. Stretch and fold the dough for the second round. Cover and let rest for 30 more minutes. Stretch and fold for the third round. Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 more minutes. This is a two hour process from when the dough is mixed to when it is ready to be shaped. Four 30 minute resting periods with three stretch and folds in between.

Prep the Oven & Other Equipment:
During the final resting period, prep your pans and your oven. Position one oven rack in the very bottom position in the oven and another rack in the middle position. Place a cast iron skillet or another heatproof skillet on the bottom rack and a baking stone, baking steal, or a sheet pan turned upside down on the middle rack. Preheat your oven to 500F (260C). You want your oven and pans to be heating for at least an hour before the bread goes into the oven. You will also need to set up a lightly floured lint free towel or baker’s couche to let your shaped dough rise on. Additionally, prepare a pizza peel or an unrimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

Pre-Shape & Rest the Dough:
If you have a scale, weigh the dough and divide it in two equal pieces by cutting it (do not tear it). Each piece should be about 305 grams each. You can also eyeball this if you do not have a scale. On a very lightly floured surface, press one piece of dough out into a rectangle and gently stretch the short ends out. Fold each short end into the center and press down with your fingertips to seal. Fold each long end into the center and press with your fingertips to seal, creating a seam in the dough. Set the dough aside and repeat this process with the second piece. Cover the pieces of dough with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.

Shape into Baguettes:
With the seam side up, press the first piece of dough into a thin rectangle. Starting at the top left edge, begin folding down the dough about 1/2″ (1.5 cm) and sealing it with your fingertips, working your way across the top. Repeat this process, continuing to fold down on the dough and sealing to create a tight log. Once you have a thin, tight log, turn it seam side down. Using both hands, roll the dough on the counter-top, working it into a long thin snake shape. Try to keep the dough as even as possible and work it into about a 14″ (36 cm) baguette. Move the piece of dough to your prepared towel or baker’s couche. Push the towel or couche up on both sides of the baguette to create folds to hold the dough’s shape. Repeat this process with the second piece of dough.

Let the Dough Rise:
Cover the pieces of dough with plastic wrap and let them rest for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.

Transfer the Dough & Score:
Place a baguette board or a small cutting board right beside one of the baguettes. Gently pull up on the towel to flip the baguette over onto the board. Move the baguette over to the parchment lined pizza peel or unrimmed baking sheet. Gently flip the baguette onto the parchment paper, so that the seam side is down. Repeat this to move the second baguette over. Using a very sharp knife or a bread lame, cut 4-5 slashes in the top of the baguettes.The slashes should go diagonally and at a slight angle, going about 1/4″ (.5 cm) deep. Mix the salt with the warm water and brush on to the loaves before baking.

Bake:
Fill a small bowl with about 2 cups of ice cubes. You want to work quickly and carefully when transferring the baguettes. Open the oven and gently slide the whole piece of parchment paper with the baguettes onto the preheated baking stone or sheet pan. Quickly pour the ice cubes into the preheated skillet and immediately shut the oven door. Turn the oven temperature down to 475F (246 C). Bake for about 25-40 minutes. It is traditional for baguettes to have a very dark crust. Check them at 25 minutes and decide if you would like a darker crust. I bake mine for 40 minutes for a dark, almost charred, crust.

Cool:
Allow the baguettes to cool before slicing. This will completely develop their flavor. Baguettes are best when eaten the same day. However, leftover baguette can be wrapped in foil and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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