This recipes uses a poolish, a starter sponge similar to a sourdough starter but using commercial yeast. Creating the poolish gives the yeast time to activate before adding it to the flour, resulting in a springier, more robust loaf.
Ingredients are listed by volume and weight. Weighing ingredients for baking is more accurate, and yields fabulous baguettes, rolls, and buns every time!
- Mix poolish ingredients and cover well with plastic wrap. Let rise for 12-14 hours at 70°F.
- Measure flour and add to a large mixing bowl. Mix in yeast.
- Add poolish and most of the water; the rest of the water depends on dough stickiness. Aim for a sticky dough. Blend ingredients enough to get all flour incorporated.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Let dough sit for 30 minutes.
- Remove dough from bowl onto floured counter or kneading board. Pat down to pop bubbles. Sprinkle salt onto dough.
- Knead dough until strong but flexible, 12-15 minutes by hand. Once dough passes the window-pane test, kneading is complete.
- Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until poofy: about 1 hour at 75°F.
- (Optional step) Place dough on kneading board and punch down. Fold 4 times (don’t knead) and place back in bowl for second rise (about 1-1½ hours).
- Preheat oven to 500°F. For best baking results let oven preheat for 1 hour, especially if you’ve placed a baking stone in the oven.
- Divide dough in half and pre-shape into baguettes.
- Place baguettes onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and rise somewhere warm until full of gas (about 45 minutes).
- Score the dough and steam it by wetting the surface. Use a spray bottle, or sprinkle water onto the loaf with your fingers.
- Quickly put dough into oven and reduce temperature to 450°F.
- Bake 20-25 minutes. DO NOT open oven door for first 15 minutes.
- At 20 minutes test for doneness by inserting a thermometer into center of bread. It should read 190-206°F.
- Remove bread from oven. Immediately transfer to a cooling rack and cool before slicing.