Introduction: Surefire Recipe for French Baguettes
I was trying out different recipes for French Baguettes, BUT NONE was satisfying me to get that special taste! SO, I was trying out different techniques and the "Poolish Technique" convinced me and wife and myself love my self-baked French Baguettes.
The "Poolish Technique" (pre-ferment): [START Text from Wikipedia]
The sponge and dough method is a two-step bread making process: in the first step a sponge is made and allowed to ferment for a period of time, and in the second step the sponge is added to the final dough's ingredients, creating the total formula. In this usage, synonyms for sponge are yeast starter or yeast pre-ferment. In French baking the sponge and dough method is known as levain-levure. The method is reminiscent of the sourdough or levain methods; however, the sponge is made from all fresh ingredients prior to being used in the final dough.
[END Text from Wikipedia]
In our recipe here we will use 500 g of flour, 200 g of T65 flour for the "Poolish" and 300 g of T550 flour for the main dough.
Step 1: Creating the "Poolish"
Based on our 500 g flour recipe, we will use:
200 g water (+/- 30°C/86ºF)
200 g T65 flour
6 g Bakers yeast
The other 300 g of T550 flour will get used a day later...
40 g Sesame seeds
60 g Sunflowers seeds
Mix everything together for a couple of minutes and cover it; let it stay for 24 hours in the kitchen by +/- 20-25°C/68°F-77°F.
As shown in the pictures there is a fermentation going on which will give the special taste later and which helps for conservation as well.
Step 2: The Main Dough
The day after the poolish:
I use a Aicok Standmixer, but you can do the job as well with your hands; just a bit not so comfortable ;)
In the Stainless Steel Bowl of the Standmixer put:
300 g T550 flour and make a hole in the middle where you put 100 g of water, on the top beside the T550 flour put 10 g salt, in the hole where the water is put 8 g baker yeast and a bit sugar.
Take a fork and mix it till the yeast is dissolved, let it rest for +/- 20 minutes. You should see a certain fermentation now.
NOW, let the Standmixer run on speed 1 for about +/- 30 seconds and then put in the poolish. Let it mix for around +/- 5 minutes and then change to maximum speed that long till the dough doesn't stick anymore on the side of the steel bowl.
Put a bit flour around and on the top of the dough, put some flour on both hands, detach the dough from the borders of the steel bowl (it is a wet dough...) and form a sort of a sphere... Put some flour on the bottom of the steel bowl and put the dough back... See PIC, please. Recover it with a wet cloth and let it rest for +/- 2 1/2 hours. Please make sure to wait 2 1/2 hours as it is this which makes the dough airy...
Step 3: Working Out the Dough and Shaping the Dough to Baguettes
Prepare your table or your baking tablet, or your silicon baking mat, poor some flour on it and put the dough on it now. Very carefully WITHOUT too much pressure (the air in the dough needs to stay in...), press slowly the dough with your hands down and form a sort of a rectangle as shown in the image.
Cut it into 3 pieces with a very sharp knife. NOW, you have to use a special technique to shape the dough to a French Baguettes style, I recommend to watch this video tutorial from a French Baker-Master and professor. It's in French, BUT you can follow visually the steps <===> French Bread and French Baguettes <===> @ 14:20 min. You need to practice a bit...
Once the baguettes are shaped, put them on the Perforated Baguette pan or on the normal oven pan where you put first a baking sheet on it.
In the baking oven put a heat resisting bowl with hot water on the bottom. Preheat the oven on 220°C/428° F.
Let rest the shaped dough for +/- 10 minutes and cut into the baguettes with a very sharp knife as shown in the images.
Step 4: The Baking
Once the oven has reached the set temperature ship the dough in. The baking time is about +/- 20 to 25 minutes... Watch the baking process till you see like shown in the pictures that the baguettes are well baked... That's the moment to take them out of the oven...
ALERT: As we are working with high temperatures and steamed water (the bowl with hot water in the oven...) step away +/- 2 meters (6.5 feet) when opening the oven, DON'T get burned!!! Wait +/- 20 seconds before approaching the oven, please, be carefully!!!
You MUST absolutely wait till the French Baguettes are cooled down completely before cutting in to see the result and smelling, tasting it. (I know it's hard to wait to see the result...)
Step 5: The Final Result
As you can see in the photos it is a success: it looks GOOD, it smells GOOD and it tastes very GOOD!!
WE don't buy anymore bread and French baguettes in the bakery and especially NOT in the Supermarket. I bake them each week fresh and it is delicious, especially with Sesame and Sunflowers seeds.
Step 6: Flour Numbering and Naming Systems
As I got a lot of questions in the comments section about the different flour numbering and naming systems, here some comparison tables.
Here some links:
- Flour Numbering and Naming Systems
- Französische Mehltypen
Thanks a lot to those who provided me also with links ;)
For my German friends I included the details of the flour, as well from where they could order it directly, please check photo ;)