How to Make Mini Baguettes at Home

About a month ago, it was Megan’s birthday. Because of the current need for social distancing, we had to make the best of it by celebrating at home. Instead of getting takeout or delivery, we decided on homemade versions of some of her favourite treats. She requested baked wings and potato wedges for dinner (an ode to St. Louis), and Vietnamese subs (banh mi) for lunch. I didn’t have a recipe for the traditional sub buns, so I opted to make mini baguettes instead. I messed up the recipe the first time because of a miscalculation (believe it or not, I’m a certified Math teacher), so of course I had to make baguettes again… and again. I ended up making multiple versions of the recipe: first correcting my mistake, then adjusting and experimenting. This was kind of a win-win: I learned a lot and we got to eat a lot of pretty decent baguettes in the process.

Yield: [4 modestly-sized baguettes, or 6 minis]
Ingredients
200g poolish (100g of water, 100g bread flour, pinch of yeast)
40g whole wheat flour (1/4 cup)
343g bread flour (2 cups + 1/3 cup)
215g water (1 cup)
4g instant yeast (1 tsp)
7.3g sea salt (1 1/2 tsp)
3.3g malt powder (1 tsp)

Special equipment:
– baking stone/steel
– couche
– lame for scoring
– aluminum roasting pan, at least almost as big as your baking stone (this is optional, but it is nice to have)

Instructions
1. For the poolish: mix equal parts water and flour, add a pinch of yeast and let it ferment at room temperature for 12-16 hours. If you want to make these into sourdough baguettes, see below.
2. After fermenting the poolish for 12-16 hours, it’s time to start the dough. In a stand mixer fitted with a hook attachment, add poolish, water, whole wheat flour, bread flour, yeast and malt powder.
3. Mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes or until it becomes a shaggy mass. Autolyse for 30 minutes.
4. Add salt and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes or until medium gluten development is achieved.
5. Bulk ferment for 30 minutes, perform a stretch and fold and then let it rest for another 30 minutes.
6. Repeat step 5 until you’ve completed a total of 4 stretch and folds.
7. Cold ferment the dough in the refrigerator for 24 – 72 hours.
8. On baking day, remove dough from refrigerator and let it warm up at room temperature for 45 minutes to an hour.
9. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces for baguette/ 6 mins and loosely pre-shape them into rounds. Cover and rest for another 30 minutes.
10. Gently flatten dough on a lightly floured surface, shape dough and transfer onto couche. (See video below for a demonstration of this).
11. Let the dough do its final ferment on the couche for 45 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven at 500°F with a baking steel/stone on the middle rack.
12. When the dough is ready, it should be nearly doubled in size, and just barely spring back when poked. Transfer your loaves onto a parchment paper with the seam side down, leaving a few inches between each loaf.
13. Score on a 30° angle with a series of cuts, each overlapping the previous one slightly.
14. Transfer loaves (all together, on the parchment) onto the baking stone, cover with an aluminum roasting pan and bake for 5 minutes.
15. After 5 minutes, remove the aluminum pan and bake for another 12-15 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.
16. (Try to) Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
17. Consume fresh on the same day or freeze the loaves whole , wrapping well. They can be reheated at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

As I mentioned before, due to a miscalculation, I used approximately 140g of water (50% hydration) instead 240g on my first trial. The dough had a tighter crumb, and it was much easier to shape, and the scoring on it looked nicer. It was still pretty tasty, but I wanted to give it another try.

IMG-20200410-WA0004.jpg

On my second try, I made it with 240g of water increasing the hydration to roughly (69.5%). I found that the dough was a little hard to work with but it had a nice open crumb.

IMG_8890

On my third try, I reduced the amount of water to 215g (to a hydration of 65%) which is what this recipe is based off of and I think this one is just right (minus my scoring) hehe!

IMG_9067

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