A Testimony to the Global Interconnectedness among bread bakers is suggested by the fact that I learned this extraordinary French method from Japanese bakers in Tokyo. There are several unique and remarkable characteristics to these Baguettes de Tradition. First, the rather wet dough is barely mixed, and only on slow speed. What results is closer to batter than bread, and on first making it, a baker could be excused for concluding that the dumpster and not the belly is the destination for the bread. The second unusual feature of the process is the fold schedule. This is the only bread I know that receives folds that do not evenly punctuate the bulk fermentation. In this case, the bread is folded 3 times at 20-minute intervals. The purpose is to develop gas-retention properties of the dough, and the change in the bread structure during the three folds is absolutely remarkable—in the course of 1 hour, the dough evolves from a slack, weak paste to a well-structured dough. After these three folds, the bread rests undisturbed for 2 additional hours. The baked baguettes have delectable aroma and flavor, crisp crust, and beautiful creamy yellow crumb. This is a challenging bread to make, and certainly not a beginner’s baguette. But those with experienced hands will find this to be a pleasurable expansion of a baker’s skills and repertoire.
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