338: Ultimate Sourdough Baguettes

338: Ultimate Sourdough Baguettes

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I wanted to make bread to go with my soup and use up some of my sourdough starter, so I finally decided to make Ultimate Sourdough Baguettes.

Generally, I’ve been making sourdough bread by weighing my ingredients, but that wasn’t an option this time. I didn’t have the full 2 cups of starter that the recipe called for, so I made two-thirds of a recipe. I also think that this is where I ran out of yeast, so I didn’t use all of the yeast that the recipe called for. I also omitted vital wheat gluten. [This makes it sound like a whole bunch of changes…]

I combined the ingredients in the stand mixer, and let it do its thing. I added all of the flour I needed, and may or may not have added a little extra. [It’s hard to remember since I’m writing about this two and a half weeks later.] I let the stand mixer knead it in a couple of stages, letting the dough rest after 5 minutes. I put the dough in an oiled bowl and let it rise for a few hours in the oven.

After the dough was doubled, I divided it into 2, and then divided one of those into two. I wanted to make two baguettes and one thicker Italian-style loaf. I roughly shaped the very slack dough. I hadn’t looked up the instructions on how to shape baguettes, so they didn’t look very pretty. I placed the two baguettes on one pan and the larger loaf on a second pan to rise. I covered them plastic wrap and let them rise in the oven again.

The recipe said to brush the loaves with an egg yolk mixed with water; I decided to brush them with a leftover egg that I’d used to brush something with earlier, but didn’t bother to mix it with water. I sprinkled pepper on one baguette, sesame seeds on the other, and left the larger loaf unadorned. I sprayed them with olive oil and baked them for about 20 minutes at 450F. I had misgivings, but I returned them to the oven to broil them for a few minutes to try to get a darker crust (as per the recipe).

Ultimate Sourdough Baguette
Ultimate Sourdough Baguette

These were okay. I wasn’t too thrilled for a few reasons. First was my lack of shaping ability. These loaves were incredibly flat, probably because I didn’t shape them. Second, I wasn’t in the mood for the black pepper or sesame seeds, although those added a nice flavor overall. Third, I should have added the egg yolk glaze as it was called for, rather than using the whole egg, since the whole egg gave the bread too strong of an eggy flavor. The sourdough starter made the flavor of the bread intensify over time… making it more and more of a sourdough bread.

I think that I should have been more conscientious with this recipe. I should try this again at some point, using the correct glaze, the proper amount of yeast, and a good shaping technique. I think this recipe works, but I can’t say right now that they’re the “ultimate” sourdough baguette.

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