Sourdough Italian Baguettes
Sourdough Italian Demi-Baguettes: Variations on a Theme
David M. Snyder
May 3, 2015
Last month, I made some Sourdough Italian Rolls, using a formula I had developed and used previously to make bâtards. This week, I continued to play with this formula. I increased the proportion of durum flour in the dough, doubling the amount in the final dough, and I shaped the dough as demi-baguettes. (I wanted to make bâtards. My wife wanted more rolls to use for sandwiches. Demi-Baguettes was the compromise. We use that shape for sandwiches frequently.)
Fine Durum flour
Whole Rye flour
Whole Rye flour
Disperse the liquid starter in the water.
Add the flours and mix thoroughly.
Ferment at room temperature until expanded and bubbly (8-12 hours). If necessary, refrigerate overnight and let warm up for an hour before using.
Fine Durum flour
Active liquid levain
In a large bowl, disperse the levain in the water.
Add the flours and sugar to the liquid and mix to a shaggy mass.
Cover the bowl and let it rest for 20-60 minutes.
Add the salt and olive oil and mix thoroughly. (Note: I squish the dough with my hands until it comes back together, then do stretch and folds in the bowl until it forms a smooth ball and the oil appears completely incorporated.)
Transfer the dough to a 2 quart lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl tightly.
After 30 minutes, do stretch and folds in the bowl. Repeat 3 more times at 30 minute intervals.
Continue bulk fermentation for another 30-90 minutes, until the dough is puffy. If fermented in a glass bowl, you should see lots of little bubbles throughout the dough. Volume of the dough may have increased by 50% or so.
Refrigerate for 12-36 hours.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and pre-shape as rounds or logs. Cover with a clean towel, baker's linen or plasti-crap and let rest for one hour.
Shape as Demi-Baguettes or Ficelles.
Roll the loaves on damp paper towels, then in a tray of sesame seeds. Alternatively, you can brush the loaves with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Proof for about 45 minutes, seam-side down, on parchment paper pleated to separate the loaves and supported at both long sides by rolled-up dish towels. Cover with a damp towel, baker's linen or plasti-crap.
One hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480ºF with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
When ready to bake, uncover the loaves. Pull the parchment from both long sides to flatten out the pleats and separate the loaves.
Transfer the loaves, on the parchment, to a peel. Score them as baguettes. Transfer them to the baking stone.
Steam the oven, and turn the temperature down to 460ºF.
After 10-12 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus. (Note: If you have a convection oven, switch to convection bake and turn the oven down to 435ºF for the remainder of the bake.) Continue baking for another 6-8 minutes or until the loaves are nicely browned and the internal temperature is at least 205ºF.
Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating.
After cooling, the Italian bread crust was soft. The crumb was nicely aerated, but not as open as expected for this level of hydration. I suspect this is because of the durum flour (higher protein but poorer quality gluten) and the extra handling installing the sesame seeds. The flavor is heavenly. This is a sweet white roll with the nuttiness of durum and sesame seeds, dipped in high quality EVOO. How could that not be delicious?
One of the baguettes was consumed for dinner.
Panino with roast chicken breast, caramelized onions with balsamic vinegar, sliced dried calmyrna figs, emmenthaler cheese and a light smear of Dijon mustard.
Such a sandwich can only be washed down with good Italian beer, of course.
I also baked a couple boules based on the "Overnight Country Blonde" from Ken Forkish's Flour Water Salt Yeast. Summer has arrived, and my kitchen is running 75 to 78 dF, so fermentation runs faster than the book specifies. The result is that bulk fermentation was complete in 5 hours. I refrigerated the dough overnight and divided and shaped the next morning. Even with the dough starting out cold, proofing was complete in about 2 hours.
All of the sourdough breads I have made from FWSY have a strong family resemblance but more or less distinctive flavor profiles, depending on the flour mix used, the percentage pre-fermented flour and the fermentation routine. This bread had a crunchy crust and cool, chewy crumb. The flavor had that nice wheaty sweetness and a quite present but mild sourdough tang, with the creamy lactic acid tone dominating. Although this is a higher hydration dough, the flavor profile is very much like the Pain de Campagne from Hamelman's Bread. And that's not bad! Like my San Joaquin Sourdough, it contains mostly AP flour but with about 10% whole grain flours, divided between whole wheat and whole rye. The procedures I used for this bake, with the overnight retardation before dividing and shaping, gave such nice results, I am going to use it for a while and try increasing the whole grain flours, maybe adding some toasted wheat germ for its nutty flavor and who knows what else.
It has been a good bread baking day.