Oh my word. Why do I love bread so much? No matter what type of food choices I make, I have a hard time staying away from really good bread. It’s those dang carbs. And the smell. And the crackly crust.
Seriously. Nothing is better than homemade bread. I told my 17 year old if he could make a good loaf of bread, he would totally impress the girls. 🙂 I’m not encouraging anything. Just pointing out the obvious.
I bought this awesome pan from Bob’s Red Mill. I basically live at that place. At least once a week I feel like I’m heading over to the store. I’m so fortunate to live 20 minutes away from the real store! I didn’t see the one I bought on their website, so I’m adding a link to Amazon so you can purchase one if you’d like.
I make this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Why reinvent the wheel, right?
For the starter (Poolish):
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
For the dough:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
- all of the starter
- 3 1/2 cups|17.5 ounces flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
To make the starter: Mix everything together to make a soft dough. Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours. The starter should have expanded and become bubbly.
To make the dough: Mix and knead everything together until smooth – using a wooden spoon or a mixer with the dough attachment. It should be cohesive, but the surface may still be a bit rough. If using a stand mixer, knead for about 4 minutes on medium low speed. The finished dough should stick a bit at the bottom of the bowl.
Place the dough in a lightly greased medium-sized bowl, cover the bowl, and let rise for about 90 minutes, gently deflating it, folding the edges into the center and turning it over after 45 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface. Gently deflate it, and divide it into three pieces.
Round each piece of dough into a rough ball by pulling the edges into the center. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes (up to 1 hour).
Working with one piece at a time, flatten the dough slightly then fold it nearly (but not quite) in half, sealing the edges with the heel of your hand. Turn the dough around, and repeat: fold, then flatten. Repeat this process again. The dough will start to elongate.
With the seam side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a 16″ log. Taper the ends slightly to create the typical pointy end of a baguette.
Place the logs seam side down onto a parchment lined sheet pan (I use the pan linked above). Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until slightly puffy. They won’t double in size, but will be marshmallow-y, and less dense, takes about 45 minutes to an hour.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 450 with a cast iron pan or broiler pan on the bottom rack. Place the baking stone on the middle rack. Heat 1 1/2 cups water to boiling for pouring in pan.
Move baguettes (with parchment) to a baker’s peel and slash 3 to 4 times with a sharp knife or baker’s lame. Transfer baguettes to the hot stone using the baker’s peel and add the hot water to the pan. Quickly close the door to trap the steam. This helps the bread rise and gives them a shiny crust.
Bake the baguettes 24-28 minutes, until a very deep golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. You can also leave baguettes on stone, turn off the oven and crack the door and allow them to cool in the oven.
For best results, weigh your ingredients.