THANK YOU ALL
I had the most delicious lunch today, salad all picked from my spring garden accompanied by the first baguettes I've ever made. I wanted to come here and say thank you to everyone, for all the points and tips that helped me gain the confidence to even try. Actually it was watching Steven Sullivan ACME baking with Julia Child in the video Marc linked to the other day, working with his dough, which made me finally decide I could at least give it a go.
I've had RLB's Bread Bible out from the library and as her instructions are so easy to follow, decided to use her method which was inspired by that of Maggie Glezer, ACME, as a master class. I figured the dough would be similar to that which Steven was using, so that was part of the decision too.
Started at 8pm Monday night and it's Wednesday here now. The pate fermentée and poolish which the method calls for were left for the maximum time suggested and the overnight retarded proof was also maxed out to 14 hours. The formula is for two baguettes, however I made three ficelle from it, to suit the size of my tiny fridge and my oven stone. I adjusted baking time for the smaller size.
The resulting ficelle were beautiful to look at; rich gold, with lots of little blisters and despite the blade catching when I was slashing, had pretty gringes. Broken open the crumb was creamy and airy, but the crust although delicious and crispy was thick, around 2-3mm. I like ficelle because they have more crust, but this was a bit more than even I want.
If I were to use this formula again what would I do? I'd try some of my sourdough in place of the pate fermentée made up to the same hydration. And while I had no problem at all managing the dough, with a rice-floured linen teatowel as a couche, I couldn't figure out how to seal them with sprayed plastic wrap, as RLB instructed and just put everything inside a large plastic bag which I sealed tightly. It's my assumption that the thick crust was because the dough dried out during its 14 hours in the fridge. I was aware of this and sprayed the dough before it went in the oven, used David's two tiered steaming method and sprayed the oven. Perhaps I even overdid the spraying. They might have come out of the oven a touch sooner too. I'll need to think it through a bit more.
However, now I have my 15m certificate (NZ swimming reference, meaning having confidence beyond my ability) I plan to tackle the scrumptious looking baguettes Jane & David have introduced here.
Apologies my digital camera has stopped working, so no photos.