Snow flying outside, Christmas tree up, and a day off from work. Sounds like the perfect day to bake up some baguettes.
I used the Recipe from The Baker's Apprentice, which includes making a Pâte Fermentée the night before and leaving it to chill overnight.
248 g flour (I used unbleached all-purpose for this)
5.5 g salt
1.5 g yeast (active dry in my case)
184 g water
This was mixed, kneaded, and set to ferment for 1 hour, then into the fridge overnight.
This morning, I cut up the pre-ferment and then added this:
284 g flour (1/2 bread flour, 1/2 AP)
5.5 g salt
1.5 g yeast
198 g water
The initial dough was a bit sticky, but I decided not to add more flour, since I wanted a lighter crumb. Three stretches and folds at 30 minute intervals, and then let sit for 1 hour. There was great rise at this point, and I was able to easily separate the dough into four equal pieces without degassing much at all.
My biggest mistake with this was not flouring my makeshift couche before setting my loaves on it for the final prove. It was suggested that I try a piece of parchment paper, folded like a fan several times to create the separate spaces for each loaf. When I went to remove them, they stuck and lost a good deal of their form. That's why they are uneven in the picture below (I think...) Also made it difficult to get clear scoring on top.
Into the oven at 500, and two doses of boiling water to create some steam, then dropped to 450. I rotated the pan at 10 minutes, and kept them in another 8. They reached internal temp right on time, but I wanted to get a bit more color on them. Probably could have kept them in longer, but I was worried about them overcooking in some spots.
Overall, I'm pleased with these. The crumb is very soft and creamy, while the crust has a satisfying crunch to it. I'd like to attempt a pain l'ancienne to compare them at some point. This is my third time using this recipe, but the first time making them into baguettes instead of boules. Right away, I felt like this was a better form for the bread to take. Smaller, more surface area, and less room for the moisture to move makes the loaves much lighter than when I've made it the other way.
Now, I just need serving suggestions! I was going to go with garlic infused oil for dipping, or maybe some nice gruyere. Any other ideas??