Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mes Baguettes au Levain (with Sourdough Starter)

Bread is important to us. CRITICALLY important, I should say. We eat bread at every meal and one of our pleasures back in France was to be able to get excellent breads at really affordable prices. In the tiny village where we spent most of July, there is a very good boulangerie for the 400+ inhabitants!! (yeah, I know!!) French people don't realize how lucky they are to have such an offering of good breads until they travel overseas. And taste the difference! I never thought I would bake bread myself even though I think that everyone should be able to make bread.
Then, as I already talked about in my last post on bread, I thought that among all the different breads, baguettes were to be off-limits to me. Until I read articles on home-made baguettes with sourdough starter and thought that I should give it a try. I have been making my own baguettes for a few months now using a sourdough starter we nicknamed "Bubulle". Bubulle can be quite active as long as we keep feeding it. My children love to watch Bubulle overflow the way-too-small glass jar it has to double/triple in size. Making bread is now part of our cooking experiences and my daughter makes sure that I never forget the salt (it happened a few times and unsalted bread is really not good!) The results? Ma foi, pas mal (who, in my family's own terms means quite good!!) It's not me who says it but my husband and my children or other French people who have tasted it at our place... or the friends I give some when the baguettes are just out-of-the-oven and taste best!
Sure, making baguettes requires more planning and timing than the boules I otherwise make... but once you have done it a few times, you know your baguettes will be good enough for you to stop purchasing OK-bread at $$$$.
I don't have my own recipe, I pretty much follow Clotilde's or Flo Makanai's (in French) and played with the recipes to reach something I like. I am always amazed that the only things I need are : flour, water, salt, and some sourdough starter! That's it! Incroyable!
I don't have enough time these days to read more about sourdough starter breads to improve the quality of my baguettes (I'd love the baguettes to be lighter but maybe it's just the sourdough starter?) but it's on my "to-do" list for the coming weeks. Until then, I'll keep improvising a little bit just to see whether this or that have a positive impact! Bon Appetit!

- 200 gr (7 oz) mature Sourdough Starter (100%)
- 400 gr (14 oz) filtered water
- 600 gr (21 oz) All purpose flour
- 15 gr (0.5 oz) salt
- Flour to dust (all purpose, brown rice or rye)

  • Day 1 - Morning
    • Feed starter to have 200gr (+leftover to keep your starter alive) of mature starter to use
  • Day 1 - Afternoon
    • Mix in 200 gr of starter with water for 1 minute on medium speed (the mix will become fluffy)
    • Add flour and mix again on lowest speed just to "moist" the flour.
    • Leave on the kitchen counter for one hour (Autolysis)
    • After one hour, add salt and knead for 7-10 minutes on lowest speed. The dough should be very smooth. Transfer into a lightly oiled bowl.
    • Leave on the kitchen counter for 2- 3 hours. The dough will rise.
  • Day 1- Evening
    • Cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 8-15 hours
  • Day 2 - 2/1.5 hours before baking
    • Take the bowl out of the fridge and leave it on the kitchen counter for at least one hour. The objective is for the dough to get back to room temperature.
  • Day 2- 1 hour before baking
    • Take the dough out of the bowl and dump it on a floured baking sheet/cloth/silpat. Cut the dough in 4 pieces. Roughly shape the pieces into logs.
    • Take a cloth and add flour to it : take one log, shape it into a baguette (you want to make sure that they can fit into your oven!!). Place it on the cloth and make a "wave" with the cloth near the baguette so that the baguette keeps it shape. Take the other logs and repeat. At the end, you'll have four baguettes laying on the cloth with some cloth "wave" separating them.
    • Put a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven.
    • Put a cast-iron skillet (or any deep metal baking dish) on the lower rack of the oven.
    • Pre-heat the oven to 500F (250 C).
    • Bring some water to a boil.
  • Day 2 - Baking
    • Just before putting the baguettes in the oven, slash them with a sharp knife.
    • When the oven is hot, place the baguettes on the baking stone.
    • With great caution (and long sleeves or cooking gloves) pour the boiling water in the skillet. Close the door immediately. It will create a steam bath for the baguettes.
    • Bake for 30 minutes at 450F (225C)
    • After 30min, check the color of the baguettes, they should be golden brown. Take them out of the oven with great caution and put them on a cooling rack.
    • Cool them completely before eating them.
My Personal Comments: 

  • I generally leave the baguettes an extra 10 minutes in my oven because I like them really crusty.
  • I used Flo Makanai 1.2.3 recipe so if you could make it with less/more starter and adjust the quantities for water and flour. Salt is 2% of flour weight (I add a little bit more because my husband likes it saltier!
  • This recipe might not be the most professional one because I am just starting to make baguettes... but it has worked for me. I like the way it works out for my timing. I can start in one afternoon and make the baguette anytime really the next day. If you want to see a professional version, go on to this video.

1 comment:

  1. coucou, hello! Beautiful pics! I'm sure it makes everybody want to try!
    If you're interested Micka is doing is own "levain", and has already a few tips for you.