Long Cold Fermentation Baguettes

by A.J. Coltrane

Baguettes inspired by Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. One of her recommendations for rustic loaves calls for combining all of the water with an equal weight of flour, then letting that marinate in the refrigerator for up to three days. (A poolish.) I targeted 63% hydration for the baguettes, and I wanted two loaves as an end product. 600 grams of flour is about right for two shortish baguettes, so:

Poolish:  378 grams refrigerator water, 378 grams AP flour, 1/16 teaspoon Instant Dry Yeast. Mix with a spatula, cover the bowl, and let rest in the refrigerator for 3 days.

The poolish after three days.

One hour before you are ready to combine the rest of the ingredients with the Poolish, remove it from the refrigerator.  Note the fabulous shower cap. Another idea that I picked up from interweb forums. It should help cut down on the plastic wrap use.

Fashionably coiffed. Note the Space Invaders cutting board lurking in the background.


Add 222 grams of AP flour to the Poolish, as well as 12 grams of salt (2% of the total flour weight) and 1 teaspoon of Instant Dry Yeast. Knead in the mixer for 6-8 minutes at low speed until the dough is smooth. Cover and let rise one hour. Divide the dough into two pieces and let rest 15 minutes.

Post-shape and pre-rise.

Shape into baguettes, cover, and let rise 1.5 hours. Slash the loaves.

Slashed. I really need to get better at that technique.


Place a baking stone on the middle rack and a sheet tray on a lower rack. Put three ice cubes in the sheet tray and set the oven to 425F.

They came out a little paler than I would have liked. I think the flavor suffered a little bit as a result.

Load the loaves into the oven and add a couple of ice cubes to the sheet tray. (I’m still working on figuring out how many ice cubes to use and the timing, though this combination got high remarks on the finished bread crusts the first time I tried it, and it’s about what the guy at the Restaurant Supply Store recommended. It seems like a good place to start.)

The crumb. I was visualizing a more open hole structure. To get there I may need to increase the hydration, or use bread flour, or just work the dough a little more. Probably all three.

I think the end result was fine but not exceptional. I need more practice. Fortunately this is one of those things where nobody minds eating the experiments, and even the less than ideal loaves still taste pretty good.


4 thoughts on “Long Cold Fermentation Baguettes

  1. I, for one, definity love your expeiments. They are pretty darn tasty.

    This one looks like you got better crumb structure that the last one you made – how was the crust?


  2. That’s *your* tablecloth that they’re pictured on.

    I think we agreed that the crust was “fine” or “nice enough” but not “wow”, and that the previous batch was better.

    As for these — I think the “Root Cause” may have been that they wound up slightly overproofed. One byproduct of that would be a less than ideal amount of available sugars on the surface of the dough (for carmelization), which would contribute to the palish color. I may have also chickened out and pulled them out of the oven before the crust got as much color as it could have, though the internal temperature *did* read 200F… the bread was “cooked”. Any longer and the bread could have wound up more dried out than I would have liked.

    I just have to keep tinkering with it. At some point I’ll (fairly consistently) hit a good combination of recipe, fermentation time and temperature, oven temperature, steam, final appearance, etc. I think I learned something from this batch, so hopefully the next one will be incrementally better than this one.


  3. You are right about the table cloth, that is mine.

    Please keep tinkering and the Iron Chef household will always be willing to be your test subjects.


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