It was late in the day, but the temptation of two new baking books was too big. I had to bake, try a recipe. My choice: Baguettes made with pâte fermentêe from the book Brot und Gebäck für Genießer by Richard Bertinet of Bath. This is the German edition of Crust: Bread to get your teeth into.
Choose a recipe from a reputable source and stick to it to guarantee both successful baking and to try the cake as the originator of the recipe intended it to taste
This is not only true for cakes, I think. When I make a recipe from a written source for the first time, I follow it, period. This enables me to rate a recipe. If I start changing it right away because, in ignorance, I think the author has made a mistake, I inject my own ideas and handlings, which should be thought of as erroneous or at least not fully thought through. My sterile humble opinion: It as always best to assume a not knowing attitude when following recipes. The author is supposed to know how it’s done. In the spirit of a nightly adventure I ventured into making baguettes.
I would have chosen a different recipe (for example the everyday baguettes from Gontran Cherrier’s book) had I had a closer look at the Bertinet recipe. This is clearly one of the more involved recipes in the book making use of a starter, wet dough, autolyse and delayed salt addition. Fair enough, I just prepared the pâte fermentée and went to bed. The next day I could not bake all day and it was again late when I got started. The baguettes, of course, almost took forever and by the time they were ready I had halfway starved. I took them out into the cold night, placed them on a frosted table, quickly took a picture, waited until they had cooled (at -1°C) and devoured one. Consquently, after all that waiting, the finished breads tasted great. But even after some distance, I think they are rather good. Richard Bertinet bakes most of the breads in this book at full 250°C for the entire baking time. Result: Dark brittle crust, big randomized lift in the oven, at least if the last proof is not 100% accurate or on the verge of overproved. Nice.
Baguettes (makes 4 small ones)
Pâte fermentée (weißer Grundansatz)
- 90g flour, type 1050
- 63g water
- 2g salt
- 2g fresh yeast
Mix together and let rise overnight in the fridge. The pâte fermentêe should show clear signs of fermentation, i.e. should have doubled in volume. Tear a chunk off, there must be an open network of holes inside. If it still looks like a sluggish piece of gray sleepy dough, let it rise at room temperature until it is well aerated.
- 238g flour, type 1050
- 12g rye flour, typr 1150
- 180g water
- 5g sea salt
- All of the pâte fermentée
Autolyse. Mix the flours with the water, mix until smooth and let stand for 30 minutes.
Pâte fermentêe. Add the pâte fermentêe and knead until cooperated.
Salt. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and knead 2-3 minutes until smooth. This can be done on an unfloured counter if you keep the dough in motion and slap it down. It will spring back and feel firm on the outside due to the increasing tension in the dough.
First rise. Let rise at room temperature for 3 hours. The German book is unclear here (first error found): In the summary it says to let it rise for 3 hours, but the recipe text speaks of only 1.5 hours. Because the dough hadn’t risen much after 1.5 hours, I gave it another 1.5 hours, which was sufficient.
Shaping. Divide into 3 or 4 pieces and shape into baguette shapes.
Final Fermentation. Let rise for 1 hour. (1.5 hours would have been perfect.)
Slash and bake at 250°C for 12-15 minutes.