Baguettes made with straight dough
Exactly 3 years ago tomorrow, I blogged about a batch of straight dough baguettes I had made rather impulsively. (See: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/11925/baguette-surprise-and-challenge) They were surprisingly good being yeasted, not sourdough, and having no pre-ferment. Several other TFL members tried my formula with pretty good success. I attributed these baguettes' very nice flavor to the flour mix I used – 90% AP and 10% white whole wheat.
Although I had intended to make these again, three years have gone by … somehow. Last week, TFL member adrade posted a reply to that 3 year old blog, having made these baguettes and finding them good enough (or maybe just fast enough) to make repeatedly. This has prompted me to make some straight dough baguettes again, this time with a somewhat different flour mix and different dough mixing method.
KAF AP flour
Central Milling Organic T85 flour
Mix flours and water to a shaggy mass.
Cover and let sit for 20-60 minutes.
Add yeast and salt and mix at Speed 1 for 1-2 minutes then at Speed 2 for 7 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured board. Form it into a ball, and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover tightly.
Ferment for 2 hours at 75º F with a stretch and fold on the board at 45 and 90 minutes.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Pre-shape as rounds or logs.
Cover the pieces with a towel and let the gluten relax for 10-20 minutes.
Shape into baguettes.
Proof on a linen couche, smooth-side down, covered, for about 45 minutes.
45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500º F with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
Transfer the loaves to a peel, making sure the smooth side is now facing up, and score them.
Turn the oven down to 480º F. Steam the oven and load the baguettes onto the baking stone.
After 12 minutes, remove the steam source. Continue to bake for another 8-10 minutes.
When the baguettes are fully baked, turn off the oven, and transfer the baguettes to a cooling rack.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
These are not the most beautiful baguettes I've ever made. The two on the left were too close to each other on the stone and stuck together. I am not sure why the cuts didn't open better. The prime suspect is under-steaming. Yet the crust was thin and very crisp. The shininess suggests adequate steam, so I'm not sure what happened.
The crumb was rather dense, as it was when I made straight dough baguettes the last time. Maybe they needed a longer fermentation. Maybe I de-gassed the dough too much in shaping. The crumb was pretty chewy but not to excess.
On the other hand, the flavor of these baguettes was totally classic – very sweet and a bit nutty. I enjoyed some with my dinner omelet and more this morning with butter and a tart plum jam. Tonight, another baguette will serve for hamburger buns. French toast Sunday is possible, if I don't make sourdough pancakes.
I think baguettes made with a straight dough are worth tweaking. It's a good tasting and versatile bread that can be whipped out in 4-5 hours. Next time, I'll increase the whole grain flour content some and extend the bulk fermentation. And get a new velvet glove.