Recipe: Wholewheat French Baguettes
Last week I planned a meet-up with my fellow baking bloggers Ramona from A Dutchie Baking and Mannin from Baksels.net. While Ramona and I know each other personally it was great to finally meet the lady behind the baksels. As you might have guessed, the day was a baking marathon: I had planned to share some cake ideas whilst Mannin taught us the fine arts of baking baguettes. I learnt a lot of new things about bread: from the importance of temperature to the fickleness of an aerated gluten network, kindly demonstrated by Ramona when she accidentally caused a whole container of dough to collapse in on itself. Having never baked a baguette before I felt like a true boulanger when I returned home with five baguettes sticking out of my rucksack, intoxicating the whole train compartment with their amazing aroma. Thankfully, Mannin was kind enough to divulge her recipe and now I get to share it with you! On the day we made baguettes with French flour (type 55 and 65); I made mine with German type 550 flour and a wholewheat flour. You can find the recipe for the white baguettes (in Dutch) on Mannin’s website and Ramona’s version is over here.
To make baguettes you’ll need to prepare a day ahead. But the satisfaction of having baked your own baguette is really worth the wait!
For 3 French baguettes, you’ll need
400 gr strong bread flour • 100 gr whole wheat bread flour • 10 gr salt • 2 gr dried yeast • 310 gr water at room temperature • 20-25 gr water • Rye flour for dusting
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well with a whisk. Add the yeast and mix again. Pour in 300 gr of water and knead for 10 minutes in a standing mixer (or use your hands). Add the remaining water little by little and knead until the dough becomes less sticky. Take a little ball from the dough and stretch it with your fingers. The dough is ready when you can turn it into a thin film that feels just a tad sticky. If it breaks, keep kneading until you reach this stage. Put the dough in a lightly greased container and close the lid. Put it in the fridge to prove overnight at 7 degrees Celsius.
The next day, take the dough from the fridge and let it warm up to 17 degrees Celsius. Preheat the oven at 240 degrees Celsius, leave a tray or pizza stone in your oven to heat up.
Divide the dough into three portions. Take one piece of the dough and flatten it a little by stretching, making sure not to press too much as it will destroy the air bubbles. If the dough is too sticky to handle, lightly grease your hands with some oil. Do not use flour as it will mess up the consistency of the bread.
Shaping the baguettes (see pictures)
Fold the piece of dough like a booklet: first the top down to one third of the rectangle, next fold the bottom third over the first fold. Lastly, fold the dough over itself to create tension on the surface of the dough, making sure to fasten the edges with your fingers. Carefully shape the dough by rolling until you reach the desired length; i.e. the length of your oven tray. Lay the rolled pieces of dough seam-side down on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Lightly dust the baguettes with rye flour to prevent the dough from drying out. Leave to prove until the dough reaches a temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, then slash the surface of the dough diagonally with a very sharp knife, razorblade or bread lame prior to baking.
Fill a tray with water and put it in the bottom of your oven. Transfer the baking paper with the baguettes onto the hot baking tray or stone. Bake the baguettes for 25-30 minutes at 230 degrees Celsius until they are crisp and golden brown.
Leave the baked baguettes to cool on a wire rack or eat them while they are still warm. The breads also freeze well. Just pop them in a preheated oven for 5 minutes after they have thawed and they will be as good as fresh. I carved my day-old baguettes and filled the cuts with a homemade garlic and lemon butter before baking them again. The baguettes were incredibly tasty and moist!
Thanks Mannin for the lovely time and for letting me use the photo where I’m scoring a baguette :)