Kingdom Bakery Polenta Levain Baguettes
Posted before as big batards, so first time out of the chute as baguettes.
We were eating grilled pork chops with polenta a few evenings ago, and that reminded me of this bread that I'd made twice in succession back in Feb. for the first time.
This time, aside from the baguette shape I rejected using the mechanical mixer instead opting for a hand mix.
These "require" no autolyse, incorporating the cooled creamy polenta after the initial mix of F W S Levain and a 5 min rest. 50 French Folds after polenta incorporation, another 5 min rest and then 40 more FFs. A 2.5 hr. Bulk Ferment with letter folds at 60 & 120 min. Retard, divide, pre-shape and shape much later, then onto floured couche where they will shed a lot of moisture back in retard again.
Bakes at 475dF with 15 min steam up front. Formula is in the linked posting above.
A light sprinkling of cornmeal for the look and the eventual vacuuming them up off the floor. These are baked dark to ensure the moisture is baked off and because I like them that way. The crust is as crunchy as the day is long.
310g x 4 baguettes/long batards
Great work. Love 'em. I haven't used a mixer for a couple of years as my Therrmomix was far too aggressive on the dough. I get a much better rise by hand mixing and stretch and folds. Love the crust colour.
home baking silliness, I decided against using my ~40 year old KitchenAid and opted for using my hands. Less out of any initial reason other than the task of extra clean-up using the mixer than for any other reason. And vey quickly began to really appreciate getting my hands into the dough to feel it as it was developing as I mixed it, and experimented with tweaks along the way. Probably the biggest tweak/improvement was a few years ago now when I decided to give the dough a five minute rest between each half of the French Folds. That minuscule time frame with the dough covered gives the dough a chance to relax and begin to become cohesive. And for a stiffer dough, allows it to become more manageable, and for a high hydration dough - like the Bouabsa, allow it to also become more manageable!
I don't completely reject using the mechanical mixer, still opting for it when mixing a ciabatta or an enriched dough like babka.
I've been a long time proponent of the dark bake. One of the reasons that I decided to concentrate on the baguette shape. There's more crust to a baguette on a crust:crumb ratio, hence one of the attractive reasons to bake them.
These look amazing Alan, they have your usual great ears and grigne. It is funny about seeded loaves and anything added to the crust, I do sometimes think more ends up on the floor and countertop than in our stomachs. That being said, they are always beautiful additions to our loaves. I still need to do a polenta bake.
I've adapted to leaving the polenta sitting in water for upwards of an hour or more, allowing the coarse tough grains to soften a little. Then once the goop is brought to a boil, a constantly stirred pot will yield a creamy polenta in very few minutes - watch that it doesn't easily over-thicken.
The dough without the polenta is initially quite stiff to get a good hand mix, but once it rests for the 5 minutes it gets easier. The Letter Folds will tell you that the moisture from the polenta has completely permeated the remainder of the dough, and it becomes very extensible. If you retard before divide and shape the cooled dough will be quite compliant during the process. This dough sheds a lot of moisture onto the couche when retarding. It also gets a nice oven spring.
Careful to not roll in too much corn meal grain else the outside will become a hard grain chew-a-thon and a tooth-picking will be in order. Had that experience the last time, so this time I didn't roll the dough in cornmeal, rather moistened each baton with a brush swipe of water then then "drizzled" the corn meal on with my fingers.