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SOURDOUGH BAGUETTE

 

Ingredients for 2 loaves:

Starter:

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 tablespoon dry active yeast (1 package)

3/4 cup water

Second day:

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup water

Dough:

3 cups bread flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

1 teaspoon dry active yeast

2 teaspoons salt

3/4 cup water

 

Directions:

Starter: Combine dry ingredients.  Stir in the water.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free spot for a day.

Second day: Stir in flour and water, cover and hold another day.

Dough: Combine the flours, yeast and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the starter and enough water to make a rough dough.  Let it rest in the bowl for a minute.

 

Machine knead the dough for 3-5 minutes adding more flour or water as needed to create a mixture that holds to the hook rather than the sides and bottom of the bowl.  When the dough appears smooth and firm, transfer it to a clean work surface lightly covered with flour.  Let it rest 2 minutes.

 

Knead the dough by hand turning and folding it until it is quite firm and taut.  Place it in a lightly oiled rising bowl.  Cover it with plastic and place it in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in size, at least 1 hour.

 

Shaping into loaves:  Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces.  Cover and let these pieces rest 2-3 minutes.  Pat each piece into a narrow rectangle.  Make a trough down the center with the side of your hand.  Fold the dough in half at this line and pinch the seam closed.  Roll the dough away from you so the seam is facing up.  Press a trough right down the seam, fold the dough in half, pinch the seam and this time roll the seam under.  Tuck under the ends of the dough and lift it onto a floured sheet to rise.  Repeat the other piece of dough.

 

Final rise: Cover the loaves lightly with plastic wrap and let them rise until almost double in size, 45 minutes.

 

Baking: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  If baking on a rack, slash the dough in four or five places with a serrate knife, mist heavily with water and slice bake sheet into the oven.  If baking on brick, turn the risen loaves onto a peel sprinkled with cornmeal and roll onto the stone directly.  Make slashes and mist quickly when the bread is in the oven.

 

Mist twice more, at 3 minute intervals.  Bake a total of 20 minutes, or until the bread is fully browned.