Anis Bouabsa in Paris, a young French baker had won the prize for the best baguettes in Paris in 2008. He generously shared his formula and techniques with Jane a blogger, which she then generously shared with us at The Fresh Loaf. See her blog topic: The Great Baguette Quest .

The baguette dough has a 75% hydration, very little yeast, hardly kneaded, folded three times in one hour then placed in the fridge for 21 hours. They are not fully risen when placed in the oven, but it is the wet dough and the very very hot oven (250°C) that resulted in the volume.

I tried this recipe and here’s the results: Nice crispy crust, soft interior crumb! Had the baguettes sliced, toasted lightly, and eaten with cherry tomatoes, home grown basil leaves and organic virgin olive oil! Bruschetta!

Ingredients:

  • 500g All Purpose flour
  • 375g water
  • 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 10g sea salt ( 2 tsp)

Method:

Mix all the ingredients in a plastic bowl and stir the mixture till all the dough is wet. Proof at room temperature for 1 hour, folding the dough every 20 minutes, ie. three times.

Then refrigerate the dough in the bowl, covered, for 21 – 22 hours.

Take the dough out of the fridge after this time and transfer it to a well floured table and divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Pre-shape the dough and then let it relax for 1 hour.

After this period, shape the individual pieces into baguettes and place them on linen couche to proof for 45 minutes.

Meantime heat the oven containing  a baking stone to 250˚C.

After 45 minutes, lightly water spray the dough and slice (score) them at a 45˚  angle before placing them on the hot stone and bake 20 to 25 minutes till golden brown; and then remove them to cool on a metal rack. Done!

Here is the bowl with the dough after sitting in the refrigerator for over 21 hours. It does not rise very much.

The four equal sized dough pieces resting to relax the gluten strands, before shaping them into baguattes.

The shaped baguattes resting for 45 minutes on a linen couche which has been floured to prevent the dough sticking to the material.

Pictured here are the baguattes baking on the hot oven stone. You can also see the metal tray at the top right corner in which to add boiling water for steaming.

Although the baguattes have a nice colour and the crust is super crispy, the crumb, I thought lacked flavour. Perhaps it’s the flour I used since the long proofing time was adhered to. I also think the slashing needs to be deeper to show up the ears.

The sliced baguatte. Showing the crust and the crumb which is fairly open with moderate sized holes. 

“My first encounter with a baguette, torn still warm from its paper sheathing, shattered and sighed on contact. The sound stopped me in my tracks, the way a crackling branch gives deer pause; that’s what good crust does. Once I began to chew, the flavor unfolded, deep with yeast and salt, the warm humidity of the tender crumb almost breathing against my lips.”

Sasha Martin, Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness

Sarah Weiner