The first chapter containing recipes in the bread book is chapter four: Breads Made with Yeasted Pre-Ferments. A pre-ferment is a mixture (typically) of flour, water, and very small amount yeast that is combined 12-24 hours before the final dough is made, and it helps to add a lot of extra yeasty flavor to the final loaves of bread. The first recipe in this chapter is Baguettes with Poolish. Poolish is a type of pre-ferment, that typically has a high ratio of water to flour, making for a very loose pre-ferment. It also does not contain any salt. All the flavor is developed from the yeast and flour. This is a very straight forward recipe, yielding a simple, flavorful loaf with a crisp-chewy crust. Goes perfectly with a delicious bowl of soup – especially soup made by great friends!
Baguettes with Poolish
(adapated from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman)
2 1/2 cups Bread Flour
1 1/2 cups Warm Water
1/8 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
–Combine Flour, Water, and Yeast in a bowl until smooth. Cover tightly and let stand 12-18 hours.
5 cups Bread Flour
1 1/2 cups Warm Water
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 1/4 tsp Instant Dry Yeast
Previously Prepared Poolish
–Combine all the ingredients for the final dough in a bowl. With a stand mixer, use the dough hook and allow to combine on 2nd speed for 6-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be moderately loose (add additional flour or water as needed in the first minute or two of mixing).
If mixing by hand, combine ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon or spatula until dough has come together for the most part, then pour out dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for 10-15 minutes, adding additional flour to keep dough from sticking to your hands or the surface.
Once dough is smooth, place in a clean, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm place (75-80 degrees) for 1 hour. After an hour, pour out dough onto a floured work surface. Gently fold dough in half, and return to the bowl. Cover again, and allow to rise for an additional hour.
After an hour, pour out dough onto a floured work surface. Cut dough into 4 portions, gently form into rounds, and cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. After dough has relaxed, form into baguettes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour and a half. Score, or slice, the tops of the loaves after they have risen.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour a cup of water in a small oven proof pan (I used a foil mini loaf pan). Place this pan on one of the oven shelves. The steam will help create the characteristic crisp crust of a baguette. Bake baguettes for 25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 210 degrees. Slice, butter generously, and shove into pie-hole.