With Bastille day on Sunday I’ve been reminiscing on the short time I spent in France a few years ago. As always thinking about Paris made me think about baguettes. A fresh baguette right from the boulangerie was one of the simplest, yet most delicious treats I had while there. And when I say simple I’m talking about the pared down awesomeness of a baguette with a swipe of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Or if you want to be really decadent go for big spread of Nutella, sigh. No fancy tools or even utensils needed here.
But while they may be simple in theory, in practice I have always thought that baguettes are best left to the professionals. Something about the crunch of the crust, the softness of the crumb and the airiness of the holes inside seemed hard to capture. That was until I fell upon this amazing recipe from Bitter Baker in which you ferment the dough for a few days to develop big holes and a dense crust. It sounded amazing but as I was looking at her photos I wanted to eat them right off the page. No way could I put off my craving for 4 whole days! I thought “okay, I’ll just half the dough, ferment half and bake the rest off today.” I started getting my hands dirty, looked at the recipe again and compared the photos of these fermented baguettes with those of the one day recipes I was contemplating. They just looked SO MUCH BETTER. Was this craving really worth eating a sub-par baguette only to have it trumped four days later? Fine! Bitter Baker wins, I will ferment the whole darn thing.
And it was worth it. They were easy and delicious.
The first day is just measuring and some easy kneading then into the fridge it goes for two to four days. Every time I opened the fridge it smiled back at me bursting over the edge of the bowl thankfully constrained with plastic wrap. On day four I took it out, let it come to room temp and folded it once an hour for three hours. Into the oven it went and out popped the most delicious homemade baguettes I have ever had. Seriously. This is a recipe/technique I will be using again and again over the years, I can already tell. Head over to Bitter Baker and give it a try.