September 5, 2009

sourdough baguettes

I have made a few attempts to make baguettes with various results. Some were too dense and heavy and a few just didn't have the right to be called baguettes at all : ) I have to say I was quite delighted with how these sourdough baguettes turned out. They were lighter with a nice open crumb and had that classic look that I find most appealing. I've made it a habit to jot down the measurements and procedures for all my bread making trials, that way, it would be easier for me to make the bread again just in case the result was good. Although as I've stated before, my sourdough starter seems to have a mind of its own now and I seem to have no control over the bread that it wants to make : ) For these sourdough baguettes, I used a cup of starter [my starter has the consistency of pancake batter] mixed with 2 cups spring water and 3 cups of bread flour. Set this aside in room temperature until bubbly for about 4 hours to develop more flavor. I prefer to use the bread machine for kneading so I transferred the starter mixture to the bread machine pan then added 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons yeast, 2-3 tablespoons half & half or milk (optional) and 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional). I just let the machine do the kneading for about 12-15 minutes. The smooth dough was then transferred to a covered bowl or container to rise for another 2-4 hours or until it has doubled in size. I have this clear covered container which is just the right size for the dough to rise over the edge. This container makes it easier for me to tell if the dough has risen enough. After the first rising, transfer the dough to a floured cutting board, then divide into two parts. Form each part into logs and let rise for another hour. Preheat the oven to 400-425F. Spray the logs with water, lightly sprinkle with flour then cut slits on top just before baking. Bake them for 30-35 minutes. Let them cool for about an hour before slicing.

The crusty sourdough baguettes with a nice open crumb (above) sliced and ready to dip in some olive oil, chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper mixture (below). For breakfast, I've tried slightly toasting the slices, then spreading them with Nutella [hazelnut chocolate spread] and topping them with thinly sliced bananas, for a sweet bruschetta variation.

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