RECIPE

Baquette (French bread)

Author:Inspired by Tassajara Bread, pg. 42
Yield:2 loaves
Prep time: 00:30
Cook time: 03:00
Category:Bread/Dough
Cuisine:French
Rating:
 (2)

Ingredients

Sponge
1.5 cups water, luke-warm (85-105 °F)
3 1/2 tsp. dried baker's yeast
1 tbsp. honey (or sugar)
1 cups whole wheat flour
1 cups unbleached white flour
Dry ingredients
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups unbleached white flour

Instructions

Mixing
  1. UP THE SPONGE: Use a standing mixer with a dough hook running (speed 2 on a Kitchenaid 6 qt). Add the water and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Add the honey. Complete dissolving is not necessary. Stop the mixer and wait for the yeast to form a foam at the top of the water, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the flour 1/2 cup at the time. After the flour has been added, the mixture will be quite thick, but still beatable. Keep beating until the batter is very smooth, about a 100 strokes.
  2. 1ST RISING: Cover the bowl with a dinner plate or damp towel to keep off draft. Set in a warmish place, about 85-100 °F (30 °C). If the bread is rising in a cooler place (70-85 °F (20 °C)), it will rise more slowly. Do not heat it above about 120 °F (40 °C), as that will kill the yeast, which is what happens when the bread bakes. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
Folding
  1. IN THE DRY INGREDIENTS: Start the mixer at speed 2. Sprinkle in the salt. Sprinkle the wheat flour over the surface of the dough, about a 1/4 cup at a time. Continue with folding in the white flour until the dough comes away from the sides and bottom of the bowl, sitting in a big lump. The dough is ready for kneading when it can be turned out of the bowl in pretty much one piece. Take time to scrape the bowl, and lay the scrapings on tot of the dough on a floured board. Do not wash the bowl just oil it lightly.
Kneading
  1. THE DOUGH: The kneading surface, a board or a tabletop, should be at a height on which your hands rest comfortably when you are standing straight. You need to be able to exert some downward pressure. If the dough is sticky, then lightly flour the surface. The purpose of kneading is to get the dough well mixed, give it a smooth, even texture, and further develop its elasticity. Flour your hands and sprinkle some flour on top of the dough. Picking up the far edge of the dough, fold the dough in half toward you, far side over near side, so that the two edges are approximately lined up evenly. Place your hands on the near side of the dough so that the top of your palms (just below the fingers) is at the top front of the dough. Push down and forward, centering the pushing through the heels of the hands more and more as the push continues. Relax your fingers at the end of the push. Rock forward with your whole body rather than simply pushing with your arms. Apply steady, even pressure, allowing the dough to give way at its own pace. The dough will roll forward with the seam on top, and your hands will end up about two-thirds of the way towards the far side of the dough. Remove your hands, and see what the top fold has been joined to the bottom fold where the heels of the hands were pressing. Turn the dough a quarter turn clockwise. Fold in half toward your as before and rock forward, pushing as before. Turn fold push. Rock forward. Twist and fold as you rock back. Rock forward. Little by little you will develop some rhythm. Push firmly yet gently so that you stretch but do not tear the dough. Add flour to the board or sprinkle it on top of the dough as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the board or your hands. As you knead, the dough will begin stiffening up, holding its shape rather than sagging; it will become more and more elastic, so that it will trend to stretch rather than tear. It will stick less and less until no flour is necessary to prevent sticking. The surface will be smooth and somewhat shiny. As you continue kneading, you may stop occasionally to scrape the breadboard and rub dough off your hands, and incorporate these scraps into the dough. When you are finished kneading, place the dough in the oiled bowl smooth side down, and turn it over so that the creases are on the bottom. The oiled surface will keep a crash from forming on the dough.
  2. 2ND RISING: Cover the dough and set in a warm place. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled in size, about 50-60 minutes.
Punching
  1. THE DOUGH: "Punch down" by pushing your fists into the dough, as far as it will go steadily and firmly. Do this 15-20 times all over the dough. It will not punch down as small as it was before rising.
  2. 3RD RISING: Cover the dough and set in a warm place. Let the dough rise until nearly doubled in size, about 40-50 minutes.
Shaping
  1. THE LOAVES: Preheat the oven to 425 °F (210 °C). Split the dough in two. Roll the dough out in a rectangle about 1/4" thick. Then roll up the dough tightly lengthwise, as you would roll up a carpet. Pinch the seam together and roll the loaf about to shape it evenly. Place the finished loaf, seam down, on a baking sheet. Make 1/2" deeo diagonal slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  2. 4TH RISING: Let the loaves rise for about 20 minutes. Brush with water.
Bake
  1. : Bake at 425 °F (210 °C) for 10 minutes, and then brush the loaves with water. Continue baking at 375 °F (180 °C) until well browned, about 35-45 minutes. For added shine and a bit of flavor, brush the tops with garlic butter as soon as the loaves are removed from the oven.