My Improved Baguette Formula
Lately I have been learning how to bake baguettes and have been experienting with various formulas and methods. I have never been able to make the usual 66% hydration baguettes work, so I typed 'high hydration baguette' and got weekend bakery's <a href="http://www.thefreshloaf.com/http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/recipe-for-80-hydration-baguette/">80% hydration baguette</a>, which made a good crumb and okay flavor, but was quite difficult to shape and score (obviously) and formed a rather crunchy crust (as opposed to crispy), due to the use of high-protein flour. After increased experimentation, I arrived at this formula, using 75% hydration and all-puropse (im my case Shepherd's Grain Low-Gluten flour @ 11.2-11.7% protein). You will probably recognize elements from other classic recipes on this site (like Pain a l'Ancienne from Gosselin):
AP Flour: 100% (500g)
Water: 75% (375g)
Salt: 2% (10g)
Yeast: 0.5% (2.5g)
AUTOLYZE: Mix 375g flour and 250g ice-cold water together until just together. Refrigerate 16 hours.
POOLISH: Mix 125g flour and 75g warm water, plus .5g yeast together and let stand 4 hours at warm room temperature (80 degrees F)
FINAL DOUGH: Use the remaining water (warmed to 100 degrees F) to "soften" the autolyze. Mix in the salt and yeast, mixing by hand until the autolyze and poolish are completely incorporated (you don't want chunks of undissolved autolyze in the dough!). Now let ferment 3-4 hours, as needed, with 2-3 folds, as needed.
PROOTING: After dividing, preshaping, and resting, place in couche and ferment for 45 minutes to 90 minutes, or retard overnight (I retarded, but forgot to cover with plastic. I got a skin, which kept it from rising properly, forming the dense loaf you see, but formed a great crust! Next time I will proof seam side up, and bake seam side down; covering, so I will get a crust from the side in the couche, but will get my proper rise!)
NOTE: I tried baking this bread with bread flour and 80% hydration, and got much bigger, nicer holes; but a much less nice crust. Next time I will try my AP flour version at 77% hydration, and maybe give a few minutes floor time).