Sourdough Baguettes

A quick update on last week’s post: no running improvement to report because I have a cold so I’m taking it easy and trying not to push myself and make it worse.  So far not a bad one, so hopefully over soon.

What I did do is repeat my attempt from earlier in the year to make French stick type loaves from my sourdough starter.  It worked fairly well last time, but the recipe needed a bit of tweaking.  Although the dough is expected to be wet it was far too wet.  I suspect that it is the Type 55 flour I have, which doesn’t seem to absorb as much water as other flours.  This time it worked well without adding additional flour.

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This is a two day recipe, based on the one by Clotilde Dusoulier on her lovely blog Chocolate & Zucchini. I had to adjust it for a number of reasons.  Firstly, Clotilde was wanting to use some wholegrain flour and that would certainly need higher hydration.  Secondly, she uses a 100% hydration starter, and I work with a roughly 150% starter because I use equal volumes of flour and water when I feed not equal weights.  Finally, I like my bread making process to refresh and feed my entire starter.  This means that rather than keeping a pot of starter from which I take a little to start each bake I like to dump the whole of my starter out into a sponge.  I then get a chance to clean out the starter pot whilst the sponge ferments and I can take a little of the resulting sponge as my new starter.

Morning of day 1:

1 cup Strong white bread flour (I use European 250ml cups so this will be about 150g, I use Sainsbury’s own brand flour.)
1 cup (250ml) water
existing starter (260g)

Ferment for 6-8 hours, then remove 0.5 cup of sponge and feed with 0.5 cup water and 0.5 cup flour to make a new starter.  This makes a bit more sponge than you need.

Late afternoon day 1:

250g of the remaining sponge
600g type 55 flour
300g water
10g salt (2 tsp)

Mix all but the salt to a shaggy dough and let it sit for 40 mins.  Then add the salt and knead up or fold to a smooth consistency.  It’s really sticky so I recommend doing this in the bowl with a plastic dough scraper.  Let it rest an hour then stretch and fold.  Again I did this in the bowl – just get the scraper under the dough and use it to pull the dough up and over and into itself, then turn the bowl an eighth and repeat.  Go round several times. One hour later do this again.  You should have a less sticky and very elastic dough by this time.  The timings on these stretch and folds is not critical.  At this point cover it closely with cling film and refrigerate overnight.  It should just about double, even in the fridge.

Day two:

The following morning take the dough out and let it return to room temperature.  Halve it and put one half back in the fridge for tomorrow or the day after if you don’t need it now.  I don’t have a baker’s-width oven so I make two batons.  The key to good shaping is to stretch the outer skin of the dough as tightly as possible. Halve the remaining portion and flatten each piece out and fold it in on itself several times, making a log half the length you want.  Let them rest 10 mins.

They will have flattened a little.  Put them seam side up, flour the edge of your hand and press it into the near side of the loaf, about 1cm from the edge nearest you.  Use the resulting ‘hump’ nearest you to start rolling.  Roll it into the rest of the loaf and tuck, pulling it towards you to create a stretch in the surface resting on the table.  Then roll each one out on the table to its final length and set into a floured cloth, separated with ridges of the cloth and supported each side.  Cover with the end of the cloth and give them another 10-15 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 220C.

Slash the loaves.  The slashes should only cover the middle third of the loaf as viewed from the top, should overlap and run more along the length of the loaf than you would think from the way they look when cooked.  Probably three slashes to a loaf for a baton.

Bake off for 20 – 25 mins.  Include a pan of boiling water under the loaves to generate steam.

We enjoyed them for lunch with some therapeutic soup made from the carcass of the chicken we roasted in the week.

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2 Responses to Sourdough Baguettes

  1. bakermom says:

    That bread looks awesome! good job. I always put a little whole wheat in my sourdoughs for flavor. I wonder about the difference between our flours. I get mine from ‘wheat Montana’ grown in the high desert of Montana. Its good for bread and ok for all purpose uses. Their whole wheat is certified chemical free at least and not sprayed with crap chemicals. Is that a problem where you are? Where is your wheat grown?

    • Mike Evans says:

      The main flour I used for this is ‘type 55.’ This is a French classification system, although it came from a mill in the Cotswold hills of the west of England. http://www.shipton-mill.com/flour-direct/french-white-flour-type-55-102.htm The numbering system indicates how ‘white’ the flour is. (The lower the number the less of the germ and bran left in.) Type 55 is milled whole and then sifted and still has some of the germ left in it. For comparison type 45 is the flour used for pastry. Using a white flour and then adding a bit of wholemeal back in would have a similar effect. It’s sounds like we’re ending up with something similar. For my regular sourdough loaf I often add in about one fifth wholemeal rye.

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