In a large bowl combine the flours, yeast, and malt powder. Then stir in the
salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water.
(For the formula for calculating water temperature see Headnote.) With a bench scraper or wooden spoon, gradually work the flour into the liquid.
Then using your bench scraper cut a piece of the dough from the edge and then
place it on top of the dough. Turn your bowl and cut off another small chunk of
dough and place it on top of the dough. Keep turning your bowl, and cutting off
chunks of dough, stacking it on top, until all the flour has been moistened.
(The object is just to moisten all the flour. You don't want to knead the
oil a large bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and then flip it over so the top
of the dough has a light coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit
(ferment or proof) at room temperature for three hours. Every 45 minutes you need to
stretch the dough to equalize its temperature.
To stretch the dough, gently
take one edge of the dough and stretch it and then fold it onto the top of the
Turn your bowl 180 degrees and stretch the dough in the same way. Then turn your
bowl a quarter turn (90 degrees) and stretch the dough in the same way. Then
turn your bowl 180 degrees and repeat the process. After that flip your dough so
the bottom is now the top, and cover. Repeat the process in 45 minutes and again
45 minutes later. (So this following step needs to be done a total of three
times over three hours.)
At least one and half hours
before baking your baguettes, preheat your oven to 475
degrees F (245 degrees C). Have your oven racks in the top and bottom third of
your oven. On each rack have a pizza stone. Also, place a cast iron frying pan
on the floor of your oven (we will be placing ice cubes in the frying pan to
Once the dough has fermented
for three hours, it's time to preshape our baguettes. Turn out your dough onto a
lightly floured surface. You want the top of the dough to now be on the bottom.
Lightly flour the top of your dough and with the palms of your hands flatten the
dough slightly to break any large air bubbles. Then divide the dough into three
equal sized pieces (about 310 grams each). When you divide the dough use a
pastry scraper or knife and cut, don't pull or stretch, the dough.
Take one piece of the dough
and, on a lightly floured surface, pat into a 6 x 4 inch (15 x 10 cm) rectangle.
Fold over the top third of dough (like you're folding a letter) and
gently seal (this also increases the surface tension of the dough.)
Then take the top of the dough and fold it to the bottom edge of the dough and
seal. Place the palms of your hand on the top of the dough and gently roll it
back and forth to seal the dough and create tension. Place the log of dough
(seam side down) onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat this process
with the other two pieces of dough. Then cover with plastic wrap and let proof
(ferment) (and to relax the dough) for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Place the three logs of dough
(top side down) onto a lightly floured surface. Gently pat the dough into a
rectangle, breaking any large air bubbles. Fold over the top third of dough and
gently seal. Turn the dough 180 degrees and again fold over the top third of
dough and gently seal. Then take the top of the dough and fold it to the bottom
edge of the dough and seal. With the palms of your hands gently roll the dough
back and forth (also creates tension which makes the scoring of the baguette
easier) until it's about 14 inches (35 cm) in length. Place the baguettes (seam
side up) on a lightly floured cloth (preferably linen), separating the baguettes
by a wrinkle in the cloth. Cover with
plastic wrap, and let proof (ferment) for about 30-60 minutes at room
temperature (the baguettes should be plump and when you gently press your finger into the baguette it should
leave a slight indentation).
Have ready a pizza paddle that
has been lightly sprinkled with fine cornmeal or semolina. Gently transfer the
baguettes to the pizza paddle, placing them seam side down. Then with a razar or
sharp knife, held at an angle, score the top center of each baguette lengthwise
with 3 - 2 inch (5 cm) slashes (slightly overlap the slashes). Transfer the
baguettes onto the hot pizza stone, spacing the baguettes a few inches (5 cm)
apart. Quickly place about 2 cups (480 ml) of ice cubes into the hot cast iron
frying pan (this creates steam). Bake the baguettes for about 20-25 minutes or
until golden brown (rotate the baguettes
after 10 minutes if you find they are browning unevenly).
(If you tap the bottom of the baguette it will sound hollow.) Remove from oven
and place on a wire rack to cool for about one and a half to two hours.
Baguettes are at their best the
day they are made.
Makes 3 -
14 inch (35 cm) long French Baguettes.