Brown-and-serve sourdough baguettes
Can you partially bake a sourdough baguette, then finish it at a later time of your choosing? That's what this experiment aims to find out. I made my standard dough which is based on Maggie Glezer’s Acme recipe, but substituting levain for yeast. Loaves went in the oven at 520 degrees, then steamed and lowered heat to 480 degrees. One loaf was removed at about 20 minutes, or as soon as it started to color (times are relative and will depend on your own oven); the second at about 30 minutes so it was brown but not dark; the third stayed in till 40 minutes for a full dark bake. The results are shown below.
Next day, I returned the partially baked loaves (which had been cooled, wrapped in plastic, and stored at room temperature overnight) to the 480 degree oven to get the fairly uniform results shown in the second picture. The lighter loaf took 25 minutes to fully brown and the medium-dark 15 minutes; that makes sense since they had to heat up once they went into the oven.
The results? Taste, crust and crumb were pretty close among the three loaves. There certainly was not any significant fall-off in quality among the bake-n-serve loaves. Since I seem to always make too much bread, this is an experiment I’m going to repeat on a regular basis so family and friends always have a supply of fresh baguettes, crispy and warm from the oven.