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Ficelle-esque Baguette | by Pomax
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Ficelle-esque Baguette

A rather tasty hearth-baked ficelle-like baguette!

 

I say ficelle-like, because a baguette is 65cm long, relatively wide, weighing 250gr, a ficelle is 32cm, relatively thin, weighing 100gr, whereas this bread is 45cm, in between ficelle and baguette, weighing 270gr.

 

The recipe and preparation are fairly traditional: 3 cups of plain while flour (~320gr) mixed with 8 grams of plain salt, and 2 cups of water (~470gr) mixed with 1.5 teaspoons of yeast, combined and mixed to a slurry, then built up to a dough with another 3 cups of flour added one by one, and left to knead until the dough is homogeneous and smooth, and feels a bit like putty without actually sticking to anything when lifted out of the bowl.

 

This dough is then placed in cooling (refridgerator temperature) around noon, punched down once around 10pm (over those 10 hours it will only have doubled in volume), and then taken out the next morning, punched down, divided into four pieces, shaped as demi-baguettes (~30cm), then proofed on parchment for an hour and a half at 35C.

 

Once proofed, the dough is removed from the parchment, flipped, stretched to 45cm (the dough is extremely elastic at this point and generally stretches whether you want it to or not, which is fine: just gently push it to the right shape and length, and let it rest for a minute). It is folded double along the bottom, then flipped back, and left to recover for about 5 minutes, after which it is dusted with flour, scored, and loaded into the oven for hearth baking.

 

The oven uses a 22" x 15" x 1" pizza stone for hearth baking, heated to 260C (which takes about 45 minutes), and the bread is baked in a fairly simple 3+1 step process:

 

1. The bread is loaded and left to spring for 5 minutes.

 

2. A cup of water is thrown into the oven (I usually do two half cups, throwing half a cup at both side walls) to effect an immediate steam blast. The oven is then immediately closed and the bread is left to steam-bake for 5 minutes.

 

3. The door is opened to let out the (invisible and super heated!) steam, after which the door is closed again, the oven is set to 220C and the bread is left to finish for 10 minutes in a relatively dry oven.

 

However, because it's only a half-hearth, after turning off the oven I will give the loaves another 5 minutes upside down on the stone (with the door closed) to ensure the top sides get enough heat to set properly.

 

After this, the loaves are transferred to a wire rack to cool, and if the loaves don't start audibly crackling fairly soon after placing on the rack, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong. The loaves cool for at least half an hour, after which they're fair game for anyone to eat.

 

And for those who want pictures to go with every step, head on over to imgur.com/gallery/hQRaL

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Taken on July 29, 2015