French Baguette

Poolish Starter:


1 1/4 c. bread flour

3/4 c. room temperature water (70-90*)

1/4 t. instant or active dry yeast, room temperature 


Rehydrate the yeast by mixing with 1 T. of water taken from the 3/4 cup.  Combine the flour, water and rehydrated yeast in a medium sized bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 hrs, until surface is bubbly.  Refrigerate overnight or up to three days before using in bread dough.


Baguettes;


2 c. all purpose flour

1 1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. active or instant dry yeast, room temperature

1/2 c. room temperature water (70-90*)

Poolish Starter (see above)


Rehydrate the yeast using 1 T. of water from the 1/2 cup.


Combine 1 1/2 c. of flour and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook.  Add the rehydrated yeast.  Stir the water into the poolish starter.  Stir the starter into the flour with a wooden spoon until blended.


Scrape the dough onto a well floured counter with a dough scraper. Using the dough scraper, keep turning the dough, adding the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, as needed, just until dough can be worked with your hands.  Turn the bowl over the dough on the counter and let rest for 15-20 minutes


Return the dough ball to the bowl and knead, using the dough hook and kitchenaid mixer, for 8-10 minutes. (alternately you can knead by hand for 15-20 minutes, not adding more dough but flouring hands as needed).  After 8 minutes, remove a small amount of dough and pull it slowly apart.  If it stretches thinly enough to see through the dough is ready, if not continue to knead, checking every minute until it stretches without tearing.


Place dough in bowl that has been well oiled (I used olive oil).  Turn the bread dough to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.


Degas the dough by folding one third into the center, fold the other half over the first half and flip it over in the bowl.  Cover and let rise for another hour.


Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Shape into rectangles, approx. 8" x 5".  Cover with plastic wrap that has been treated with cooking spray.  Let rest for 15 minutes.


Placing the dough of the baguette in front of you lengthwise.  Pull the dough from the far side over and around the loaf, tucking the end underneath the bottom.  Do this with both loaves.  Cover with sprayed plastic wrap and let rest.


Reshape the loaves as stated above and roll them into 14" long baguettes. Place them on a silicone mat or onto parchment paper that has been placed on an upside down baking sheet.  Roll two towels and place on each side of the baking pan under the mat or parchment paper.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap that has been treated with cooking spray and let rise for 30 minutes.


During this last rise, place a baking stone on the middle shelf of your oven and preheat to 475*.  (if you don't have a baking stone you can use an upside down baking sheet.).


Make 3-4 diagonal slices across the top of each loaf, using a straight razor or serrated knife.  Mist loaves heavily with hot water, until they are visibly wet.  Transfer the silicone mat or parchment containing the loaves onto the baking stone.  Mist the inside of the oven walls with 10 or 12 sprays of water.  Close the oven for 30 seconds, then open and mist the oven walls again.  Reduce oven temperature to 450* and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.


Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire racks before slicing.