Sunday, July 3, 2011

BBA #26: Poolish Baguettes

Poolish baguettesThe poolish baguettes are another of the several recipes for "French bread" variations, this one made with a poolish (another variation on a mix of flour, water, and yeast made ahead, to add flavor) and part whole wheat flour. I made all of the poolish amount, then noticed how little of it was needed for the baguette recipe. What to do? The only other thing in the book calling for a poolish is a variation on foccacia--perhaps I'll try a half recipe of it this weekend, as pizza. The tail end of the poolish is (hopefully) fermenting on the counter to become sourdough pancakes.

I debated making a half recipe of the baguettes. I probably should have not only for cutting down on the amount of carbs in the house, but also because my baking stone is small for three baguettes which have to be somewhat fat to fit on the short stone. But I went ahead with the full recipe and managed in one baking, though the longest baguette hung off the edge (but surprisingly didn't burn) .

Another interesting direction in this recipe is to sift the whole-wheat flour through a fine sieve to reduce the amount of bran. I got a good bit of bran from my whole-wheat flour (the bran went into the prospective pancake batter). This is about a half-whole-wheat recipe, all to the good for my family, as we tend to eat more whole wheat and multigrain than white breads.

That done, the recipe proceeded more or less as usual, mixing flour, salt, yeast, water and the poolish, and machine kneading. I added the full 10 ounces of water then a little more to get an almost-sticky dough as specified. The dough rose rapidly--the first "2-hour rise" took about an hour and a half, the second an hour and 15 minutes.

I cut the dough into thirds and proceeded to shaping. I'm still working on the baguette shaping technique--the video Chris found helped, though I only folded mine twice and didn't elongate the loaves much due to the short baking stone issue. The loaves baked up very prettily. They got a little curved in the rush to slide them onto the hot stone from awkward angles as the oven rack doesn't pull very far out of the oven, my peel is too short for baguettes, and of course I wanted to minimize the heat loss from the open oven. 'Sall right, the shape didn't hurt the taste.

Poolish baguettesWhat about that taste? Trust is more chewy than crackly--I think I'd like it crisper, and don't know if that is inherent to this recipe or if it is more an issue with the baking technique. Partly both, I suspect. The bread has a nice texture, but not many large holes, and a good flavor. The wholewheat definitely improves things in my book flavor-wise. We ate it with herbs and olive oil, making a great accompaniment to the dinner of grilled shrimp and sausages my sister-in-law fixed.

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