Wow, this was definitely a labor of love! One 14 hour rise for the starter, 3 hour-long rises before shaping the dough, then one last 60-90 minute rise after shaping. Granted, it's mostly a lot of waiting around, but you gotta really plan ahead and probably shouldn't stray too far since you gotta come back and tend to it pretty often.
Was it worth it? Most definitely! But I think I'm going to try to make extra and freeze the dough next time? If you have any experience with this, please let me know if that's a bad idea. Otherwise, when I eventually get around to trying it out, I'll let you know if it's a bad idea or not...
Another thing that I'd like to see is more/bigger air bubles like a store-bought baguette. Maybe a baking stone would've helped with that? So would using bread flour instead of all purpose? Guess who's going shopping!King Arthur's blog. I wonder if I could shortcut the recipe and add more yeast and shorten the rising times, but I probably shouldn't press my luck. I've come a long way from messing up cupcakes out of a box and have no desire to go back to my old ways of not following directions and screwing everything up.
Note: I actually made the baguette before I made the bruschetta (I just hadn't written up the post yet) and used it for the bruschetta. Yummy yummy!
1/2 cup water
1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or European-Style Artisan Bread Flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
All of the starter
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or European-Style Artisan Bread Flour
1 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
The Starter: Mix the starter ingredients together till smooth, cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight.
Preparing the Dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead them together -- by hand, mixer or bread machine -- till you've made a soft, somewhat smooth dough; it should be cohesive, but the surface should still be a bit rough. Allow the dough to rise, covered with lightly greased plastic wrap, for 3 hours, gently deflating it and turning it over after 1 hour, and then again after 2 hours.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased or floured work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces (if you're using our Steam Baking Master, or three pieces, for longer, thinner baguettes. Shape each piece into a rough, slightly flattened oval, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let them rest for 15 minutes.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, fold the dough in half lengthwise, and seal the edges with the heel of your hand. Flatten it slightly, and fold and seal again. With the seam-side down, cup your fingers and gently roll the dough into a log that would fit whatever pan or baking stone you'll be using to bake in. Place the logs in the folds of a floured couche, which you've set onto a sheet pan or pans, or directly onto the pan (lightly greased or parchment-lined). Cover them with a proof cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaves to rise till they have just about doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Note: For the best, most crispy-crackly crust, cover the shaped baguettes in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, let them rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered, while you preheat your oven.
Preheat your oven to 425°F; if you're using a baking stone, place it on the lowest shelf. Roll the risen baguettes from the couche onto the lightly greased or parchment-lined pan of your choice -- or onto a peel, if you're baking directly on the stone. (If you're using the Steam Baking Master, follow the manufacturer's baking directions.) Place the baguettes in the oven.
Bake the baguettes for 25 to 30 minutes, until they're a deep, golden brown. Turn off the oven, crack it open about 2 inches, and allow the baguettes to cool in the oven. Yield: 2 shorter, fatter baguettes or 3 longer, skinnier baguettes.