This month's challenge, posted on Leap Day, comes from our brilliant hosts Mary from The Sour Dough and Sara of I Like to Cook. Always curious as to what the challenge will be, I was thrilled to see they chose Julia Child's baguette recipe. It made it even better that it was something relevant to what I am doing now, which is learning the art of the baguette.
In the past, my go-to baguette recipe was ACME Baguettes from the book Artisan Baking and even though I always mean to try another, I usually stick with what I know when I need the end product to come out well. The difference between the ACME recipe and Child's recipe is the former has an old dough and poolish, as well as foldings interspersed throughout the rising time, whereas the latter is just a straight dough with two fermentations, form the shapes, then rise and bake. I was curious about this recipe ever since I had watched Julia Child making baguettes with Danielle Forestier in these videos.
After the initial mixing and resting for a few minutes, this is what the dough looks like. Very shaggy and wet, but you can tell it's not an entirely soft dough that lacked any shape.
After the kneading time, which took me 20 minutes and created an ache in my right bicep (yes, I have been far too lazy...), I produced a gluten-developed dough with a taught skin, though still soft. (This was after the kneading, a brief rest, and 1-2 more minutes of kneading. It's amazing how that short resting time really made a difference in the texture of the dough.)
I do not know why I couldn't tell this picture had a pinkish hue when I was editing it. Annoying.
After the first rising time of 3 hours, the dough pretty much tripled in size and developed a lightness when you gently press it.
There was a second fermentation, about 1 ½ hours, after which:
The dough is weighed into three equal pieces, shaped into a ball, and left to rest for a bit.
After the folding session, which is done to develop a taut skin and help hold the shape.
The baguettes are placed into my makeshift couche and covered to rise. (I pressed and sprinkled the towel with brown rice flour, as I find it keeps the dough from sticking better than regular flour does.)
I then moved one piece onto my makeshift baker's peel, also sprinkled with rice flour, and proceeded to slash and brush with water. (I need to work on my slashing skillz so it won't deflate the dough as much as it did here.)
The first is a picture of the baguettes during the last water-brushing time, the second is right after the baguettes finished baking.
A close-up on the crust. Remember the loaf of bread insect in Alice in Wonderland? This is what the insect version of a baguette would look like.
Fast forward past my patience, aka the cooling time, I was anxious to see the crumb development so I sliced and stared in awe. Look at the webbing!
I was very please with this recipe and am glad it was chosen. The finished product produced a crispy crust, magnificent innards with a slight fermented smell and a beautiful off-white color due to the long fermenting process. The flavor was great, too. Thanks again to Mary and Sara!
Be sure to read the other Daring Baker's blogs and see what they thought of it. The link is on the sidebar.
I'll leave you now with two closing pictures to whet your appetite until next month! ;)