A few years ago, Carol and I spent 4 very enjoyable days taking baking classes at King Arthur Flour’s baking school in Norwich, VT. One of the classes I took was for baguettes, and this is an adaptation of how we made them in that class. One change is that I baked the baguettes in my Fourneau oven, which has limited capacity, so I formed the dough into three rather than two loaves. This dough has lower hydration and a more even crumb with smaller holes than the version in my Baguettes in a Fourneau oven posting.
1-1/4 cups (5.25 oz.) all purpose flour
5/8 cup cool water
Pinch of yeast
2-3/4 cups (11 oz.) all purpose flour
5/8 cup cool water
1-1/2 tsp. yeast
1-1/2 tsp. salt
The night before, combine the polish ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover, and let it ferment at room temperature (~70 degrees) for about 15 hours. It will be very bubbly and fragrant when done.
The next day, put final dough ingredients (including the polish) into a mixing bowl. Using the paddle, mix the dough for several minutes until a smooth dough is formed. Periodically use a spatula to remove the dough from the paddle to ensure that it is all being kneaded and mixed evenly. Take the dough, coat it with a little oil, and put it into a doubling container with a cover, to rise until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Halfway through, take the dough from the container, stretch it into a large rectangle, and then fold it in thirds, and then in half, and return it to the doubling container. This stretching step helps develop the gluten.
Divide the risen dough into three balls, and allow to rest covered for 20 minutes. Then form each ball into a baguette by stretching it into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface, and tightly rolling it into a cylinder.
Place the formed loaves seam side down on a lightly floured couche or other cloth, cover, and allow them to rise again until nearly doubled, about 30-40 minutes.
Heat the oven with Fourneau insert at 450 degrees while the loaves are rising for the second time. Slash each one before baking, and bake for 15 minutes in the Fourneau oven, and about 12 additional minutes on a baking steel until fully cooked. When the first loaf is moved to the baking steel, the second loaf can be put in the Fourneau oven. Place the finished loaves on a cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing them.