The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

90-minute Baguettes

LazySumo's picture

90-minute Baguettes

I've been paying attention to lots of threads around here and info from all sorts of sources. Last weekend I finally hit on a process that I think will put out constistantly beautiful, tasty baguettes with great internal crumb structure. This process takes about 90 minutes worth of work spread over 3 days to get some awesome results. During those 90 minutes we'll be using the recipe from Julia Childs, autolysis techniques to get more sugars converted from starch, retardation for slow ferments which give things other than your yeasties time to play, along with folding rather than kneading, and shaping techniques from Mark at the Backhome Bakery. Finally, I've framed this setup around having fresh loaves ready for dinner on Saturday afternoon/evening. Of course you can slide the times around to suit your schedule.


This process yeilds three 11oz  loaves, enough for most family dinners.


Thursday Night Before Bed: 30 Minutes

-20oz (by weight, 5cups by volume) of your favorite flour

-2cups water (room temp)

-1T SAF Instant yeast

-2t table salt

On your kneading board or in a mixing bowl bring together flour and 2 cups of water. Mix this until all the flour is wet and no longer lumpy. You should have a nicely tacky (not sticky) dough ball. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Add in yeast and mix until incorporated then do the same for the salt. Using a coverable container that is large enough to hold twice the volume of the dough ball, spray the interior of the container and the bottom of the lid with PAM. Place the dough ball inside, cover and place in the fridge until the next morning.


Friday Morning Before Leaving for Work/School: 5 Minutes

Bring the dough (now doubled at least) out of the fridge and out of the container. Place it on a clean UNFLOURED surface and perform a triple fold: As the dough is laying on the counter in front of you, get the bench scraper under the right hand side of the dough, grab it and stretch it out to the right then fold that section back over onto the dough mass. Do the same thing with the left side, now the dough has been folded like a business letter into thirds (more or less). Rotate the dough 90degress and repeat for 4 folds all together. Place the dough back into it's container (more PAM only if needed) and cover before replacing in the fridge.


This basic folding process will happen twice more at least!


Friday Evening About Dinner Time: 5 Minutes

Repeat the above process.


Saturday Morning: 5 Minutes

Repeat above but this time leave the dough out in a warm place.


Saturday Day: Approx 10 Minutes

Divide the dough into three peices about 11oz each. Shape the dough with your preferred technique, but I highly recommend Mark's process (and videos) at his website: Also, I highly recommend placing the loaves on parchment paper to proof/bake on, it makes life so so much easier. Cover and leave the loaves in a warm place until doubled, consult your yeast for exact time and schedule!


Saturday Day: Approx 30 Minutes

Time to actually bake! Setup your oven stones and steaming pan and bring the oven to 500 degrees. Steam the oven with about 2 cups of water and score the loaves while the steam permeates the oven. Place the loaves in and cook until done, for me this is usually 23 minutes. Cool and serve with dinner on Saturday evening.


Honestly, I know that there are a ton of recpies already out there, and just as many processes, so why put this one? Well, hopefully seeing the information framed like this, day by day, will help someone to 'see' the whole process. Would love to have someone else try this and let me know the results. Thanks!


Pablo's picture

Thanks especially for the pointer back to Mark's Back Home Bakery shaping videos.  I'd watched them before but never picked up on the prehape and then shape portion of the baguette forming.  I found on my own that I needed to give the baguettes a rest between shaping them into a fatter, bâtard-like preshape and then into the skinny baguette shape.  I found that the dough would really fight me if I didn't put a rest in there.  It was very gratifying to see Mark doing the preshape and then coming back to do the final shape.

I like your laying out your baguette routine, especially putting it in the context of your daily life.  Mine is similar, except that I use a starter instead of adding yeast.


LazySumo's picture

Paul, thanks for the response. I meant to reply this morning when I read it but ran out the door for work too fast!


As far as I can tell there are a couple of reasons for doing a preferment, but the biggest is to add flavor to the bread by allowing more time for the yeast and bacteria to do their thing. They simply can't generate as much flavor if they are only given a few hours with the flour and water. Well, if that's the goal, why not treat the whole dough ball as a preferment and use retardation to stretch fermentation out over most of two days? I can promise you that the resulting loaf has a wonderfully nutty flavor that is great.


Tomorrow night I'll be starting another batch, hopfully some others on the board will as well and give me feedback on the whole process. Thanks again!

Soundman's picture

Thanks for the inventive recipe. I'd love to see some pix of your efforts!

As I understand it, all the bulk fermentation takes place in the fridge. This reminds me of Reinhart's variation on Phillipe Gosselin's baguette recipe (Gosselin leaves out the yeast until after an overnight "autolyse" in the fridge).

I would think that the fridge temperature would make a difference, in that a truly cold temperature will cut short the fermentation, putting the yeast more or less to sleep. Do you know your fridge temp?

I'll try this out when I have time.
Soundman (David)

LazySumo's picture

David, I just checked and our fridge is sitting at 36 right now. Yes, this is similar to Reinhart's version, but I like to think it's more practical. I don't go with a long autolyse because I've read that after 20 minutes most of the work is done on that process. I can't give any citations on that, but I remember reading it.


You know, now that you mention it, even at 36 degrees there's still plenty of yeast activity in my dough. I started some last nigh, and this morning it had almost (not quite) doubled. Folded again just a few minutes ago and again it had almost doubled. Of course since I'm using so much yeast all of the activity may be expected. I'm going to try the recipe with less yeast and see how it manages. I'll report back once I do.


Pics? Hopefully I'll be able to post some vids. Wal-Mart and Sears both are going to have some video recorders available next Friday (Black Friday) and I may scoop one up.