24 January 2011

Pain a l'Ancienne Sage Twists

So I made these baguettes again. I can't help myself - they need an hour to rest/rise before going in the oven, cook in 12-15 minutes, and then 15 minutes to cool. Compared to a minimum 2 hour rest/rise for other recipes (and don't get me started on the time to cook and cool a loaf), it is hard to beat. You get a crispy, crackly exterior, lightly caramelized, with a moist and airy interior every time.
I cannot stress how delicious this bread is, compared to the amount of work involved. Even when you botch the recipe, like I did. The botching explains the shape, by the way. I completely spaced out when measuring water - I needed ~225 grams and poured ~275 grams. Thinking myself something of a bread-baking baller, I believed it fixable. The stretch-and-fold was nothing of the sort; the dough was a soup that clung to anything near it. I used a silicone spatula to do something like a stretch-and-fold - I would slide it under a side, pick it up, and let the dough back down, about 8 times per repetition and a repetition every 7-10 minutes for 40 minutes.
This still did not fix the dough; in the morning it was still soupy and impossible to touch. I floured more than I have every floured before, but even after caking it you can see above how liquidy it was. The mini-baguettes wouldn't hold their shape at all, but I found by doubling them back and twisting them (after a coat of flower), they stuck together well enough to be baked.
My other modifications to the recipe was adding 10g of chopped fresh sage (to a half batch) and putting some sea salt crystals on top of each baguette after shaping. I'm glad I didn't use more sage - other herbs/flavourings I've put in bread like this have been on the 15g-20g range, but sage packs quite a punch. I am going to have to be careful, or I will only end up baking two breads: these baguettes and Struan.

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