Wednesday, November 10, 2010


French Baguettes from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

pate fermentee
1 1/8 cups flour
1 1/8 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cups water

baguette dough
3 cups pate fermentee
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
3/4 cups water

1. make the pate fermentee: stir together the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. add the water until it comes together into a coarse ball. adjust the flour or water until the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat. cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for one hour on the counter. remove the plastic wrap, punch down a bit, recover and put in the refrigerator overnight.

2. the next day, take the pate fermentee out of the fridge an hour before making the dough. then, follow the directions above to make the dough, adding the pate fermentee in as you mix. the dough should come together and be completely uniform. knead on a floured surface for 10 minutes, place in an oiled bowl, roll to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise on the counter for 2 hours.

4. scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface and form into baguettes or other shapes of your choice. when shaping, let the dough rest and go back to shape more as the dough becomes more pliable. let the shaped dough rise, covered with a towel, for about an hour or in proof box.

5. score the bread dough with a sharp knife. heat the oven to 500 F and put a heat-proof bowl of water on the bottom. bake the bread on a baking sheet. after 30 seconds, open the oven door and spray the oven walls with water from a spray bottle. repeat twice more at 30-second intervals. then, lower the temperature to 450 F and bake for 10 minutes.

6. rotate the loaves if necessary and bake until they are golden brown (anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes). remove the loaves and cool on a rack for an hour before slicing.