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