Baguettes de Tradition

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Dough Yield: About

    40

    baguettes at 14 oz each

Appears in

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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U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 20 lb 10 kg 2 lb ( cups) 100%
Water 15.2 lb 7.6 kg 1 lb, 8.3 oz (3 cups) 76%
Salt .36 lb .18 kg .6 oz (1 T) 1.8 %
Yeast .15 lb, fresh .075 kg, fresh .1 oz, instant dry (1 tsp) .75%
Total Yield 35.71 lb 17.855 kg 3 lb, 9 oz 178.55 %

Method

  1. MIXING: Place all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix for 400 to 450 revolutions of the dough hook, on first speed only. The dough will be quite loose-textured with no gluten development whatsoever. Desired dough temperature: 75°F.
  2. BULK FERMENTATION: 3 hours.
  3. FOLDING: Fold the dough 3 times, at 20-minute intervals. While this can be done in the mixer simply by turning it on for a few seconds (a preferred method if a large quantity of dough is mixed), I find it is more effective when the dough is turned onto a floured work surface. Once the third fold is performed, the dough should be supple and reasonably strong. The dough now rests for an additional 2 hours.
  4. DIVIDING AND SHAPING: Divide the dough into 12- or 14-ounce pieces. Preshape to blunt cylinders, and when sufficiently relaxed, shape into baguettes. Work firmly but gently, and above all avoid over-tightening the baguettes. Place with seams up onto floured baker’s linen. Cover to prevent the formation of a crust.
  5. FINAL FERMENTATION: About 1 hour at 75°F.
  6. BAKING: With normal steam, 460°F. Bake this bread until it achieves a full rich crust color. A full bake is recommended to ensure a crisp crust.

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