This is my mainstay bread. It is always in my freezer ready for an impromptu dinner party or just an accompaniment to Wednesday night’s pasta dinner. I just pull it out of the freezer and place it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes with the foil on, then remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes to crisp the crust back up. This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite books 52 loaves, which is not a cookbook. It is the true story of one man’s quest to make the perfect loaf of bread, a very humorous and enjoyable read.
- 250 grams levain (sourdough) (9 oz)
- 300 grams all-purpose flour (slightly less than 2 ½ cups, 10.6 oz)
- 55 grams wheat flour (slightly less than a ½ cup, 1.95 oz)
- 20 grams whole rye flour (3 TB, .7 oz)
- 10 grams salt (1 ½ tsp)
- ¼ tsp. instant yeast
- 215 grams water (slightly less than 8 oz in a liquid measuring cup, 7.5 oz)
- Replenish your levain the night before with 130 grams (4.6 oz, little over ½ cup) water and 130 grams flour (4.5 oz, 1 cup).
- Measure out your ingredients into a large bowl, mix thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rest or autolyze for about 20-30 minutes.
- Remove the dough to an unfloured counter-top and knead by hand for 7-10 minutes or until it passes the windowpane test.
- Lightly spray your bowl with cooking spray and place your dough ball back into the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place the dough immediately into the refrigerator and allow to cold ferment overnight.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow the dough to come up to room temp, about 1-2 hours.
- On a very lightly floured counter-top divide your dough into 2-4 pieces depending on whether you want 2 regular sized baguettes or 4 mini baguettes. Shape them into rough balls, cover with plastic wrap and allow the pre-shaped loaves to rest for 10 minutes. This will allow the gluten to relax and make shaping them easier.
- Gently press each ball into a rough rectangle. With the short side facing you, fold the top third of the dough down towards you to the middle, press the edge to seal. Then fold the bottom third up to the middle and seal the edge. Fold the dough in half and seal the bottom edge.
- Starting with your hands together in the middle, start rolling the loaf back and forth, moving your hands outward as you roll.
- Proof your loaves in a floured couche or between folds of parchment paper for about 45-60 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone near the middle rack and an old cast iron skillet on the bottom shelf.
- Transfer your risen baguettes with a flipping board or by hand to a lightly floured piece of parchment paper that has been placed on top of an inverted baking sheet. Cut three diagonal slashes slightly overlapping on each baguette with a lame or single edged razor.
- Transfer the loaves on the parchment directly to the stone. Quickly add ½ cup of water to the skillet and reduce the oven temperature to 480 degrees.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crust is a rich brown and the loaves register an internal temperature of 210 degrees.
- Cool on a rack for at least one hour before serving.