I was inspired to make sourdough baguettes after reading a post by Debi at My Kitchen Witch. Debi was making Fig, Caramalised Onion & Goat Cheese Crostini. First step was to make the baguettes. Debi gave a recipe for sourdough baguettes. At the time, I was going through a baguette-making stage. I usually make mine with commercial yeast. The baguettes are ok, but nothing special, so I decided to give Debi’s recipe a go.
First thing I did was to up Debi’s recipe. I have a 90cm oven and have found that a kilo of flour is perfect to make four baguettes just the right length for my oven. Secondly, Debi didn’t have much salt in her recipe so I upped it. Thirdly, Debi’s recipe had less than 50% water to flour which is very low so I upped the water to 67% which is about average. I did follow Debi’s method.
My baguettes were not a success but it was not the fault of the recipe nor the method. Unbeknownst to me, just as I put them in the oven, the connection to the bottom element of my oven burnt out. As a consequence, the oven that I preheated to 250°C was very quickly losing its heat. I had to bake them for ages, at an ever diminishing temperature, just to get some colour. All was not good.
I decided to try again. As I felt more comfortable with the method I use to make all my bread, I decided to go with that. By now, the recipe bore little or no relationship to Debi’s.
These ingredients will make 4 baguettes just the right size for a 90cm oven. If you have a 60cm oven, reduce the ingredients by 33%.
- 315g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 520g water
- 840g bread flour
- 20g salt
- Mix all the ingredients in your mixer bowl (except the salt) until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 20 minutes. It is always advisable to, initially, hold back some of the water because all flours absorb water differently. Add the balance, and extra if needed, whilst kneading.
- Add the salt and knead the dough in an electric mixer for 5 minutes or by hand until it is smooth (about 10 minutes).
- Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and leave for 50 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured bench and do a stretch and fold. Return the dough to the oiled bowl.
- After 50 more minutes, do another stretch and fold. Return the dough to the oiled bowl.
- After another 50 minutes, divide the dough into four, do a stretch and fold with each piece and shape each into a batard. Roll and stretch each batard until it is the length of your tray*.
- Place the four baguettes onto your tray*.
- Sprinkle flour over the baguettes. Cover with plastic wrap.
- Leave the dough at room temperature and allow it to nearly double in size. How long it takes will depend on the weather and the strength of your starter. Mine took about three hours.
- An hour before you are ready to bake, line your oven shelf with terracotta tiles and place a baking dish in the bottom shelf of your oven. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature.
- When you are ready to bake, boil some water.
- Slash your baguettes with a razor blade or lame.
- Pour the boiling water into the baking tray in the bottom of your oven.
- Bake the baguettes for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the bread out of the oven and check the undersides. If they are not brown, put them back in the oven, bottom side up, for 5 minutes.
- Remove the bread from oven and set aside to cool.
*Here is a photo of my baguette tray – Maus made it. It has been featured in a previous IMK post. It is merely a piece of zinc alume cut to just the right size for my oven. I coated it in olive oil and then seasoned it before using. It is perfect for proofing the baguettes and then plonking them straight into the oven. Cost = $0.00