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How to Mix Baguette Dough

Learn how to mix baguette dough in this bread making video from Howcast.


So I'm going to show you how to mix baguette dough by hand. You start out with baguette dough doing an autolyze, and an autolyze is essentially a way to help the gluten in the dough form, and so I'm taking 72 degree water and I'm going to scale out 850 grams of it. Now into the water I'm going to scale out what is called poolish, and poolish is a preferment.

And in bread bakers language a preferment is any kind of dough that's fermented, before the main dough is fermented, so a sourdough starter is a preferment, a poolish is a preferment, a sponge is a preferment, all of those things that you do ahead of time. with any type of yeast are called preferments.

And so this poolish is equal parts flour and water, with the tiniest, tiniest bit of fresh yeast, and so I need 700 grams of poolish in my recipe and what I did, about 12 hours ago was I mixed 500 grams of bread flour with 500 grams of 70 degree water, with approximately... I didn't even scale up the yeast. I just used a very, very tiny, tiny pinch of yeast, and so that ferments. You can see it's really ripe right now and I need 700 grams, and so I'm going to scale this into my water. Great, and if you can see, this poolish is floating in the water and that's a sign that it's well fermented, because that carbon dioxide helps it to float.

And so then into this, I'm going to pour in 1400 grams of all-purpose flour and I like to use all-purpose flour instead of bread flour, because the all-purpose flour helps split the fermentation. It ferments faster because the protein content isn't as high, it doesn't take as much for the yeast to feed on it. And so now I'm going to omit my salt and my yeast for the moment and I'm going to just sort of with my hands, just these three ingredients, combine them.

And you just want to hydrate the flour. I'm just going to keep my one hand free for now and my other hand I'm just sort of using a circular motion to incorporate the ingredients, and then I'm going to sort of start to squeeze the ingredients together. I'm only using a metal bowl right now, because it's wide and it's easy for me to use. But you can use any type of bowl. This makes a lot of dough.

This makes about three kilos of dough and so you want to use a big bowl, but it could be a ceramic bowl or any type of earthenware bowl is fine. So I just want to hydrate my flour, and it's going to be a shaggy mess when I'm done, because I'm not going to knead it right now. I'm going to let it rest for about 20 to 30 minutes during an autolyze period, and during that period of time my gluten will form and it will be easier for me to finish kneading it.

So this shaggy bit of dough should look just pretty much like this. You don't have to go any further with the mixing. I'm going to clean my hand off and then I'm going to sprinkle my 36 grams of salt right on the surface, and that sort of helps the salt to start to dissolve, but it doesn't interfere with the gluten-forming process. Then I'm going to hold back my yeast and so I'm going to let this dough sit for about 30 minutes.

Okay, so our baguette dough has been resting for 20 to 30 minutes, and now we're just going to sprinkle the yeast on and that's 8 grams of yeast. And so I'm going to use my hands to get it going, and then once I feel like the gluten has developed, I'm going to knead it on the surface of the table. Once it feels like it's not quite so sticky, I'm going to transfer it to the table. Okay, so I'm going to move it to the table.

I'm going to add a little-- it's sticky right now so at this point I'm just going to get a little flour underneath just to help get it going, and now I'm going to start kneading it. And so I'm just sort of going to take my hands and I'm going to sort of rotate it as I go, and I'm going to knead it until the gluten is developed, until it passes the window pane test and is about seven minutes.

So I'm using a lot of pressure as I knead it, and I sort of want to make sure, because my salt still needs to be incorporated, so I also want to make sure that my salt is incorporating. And if it sticks to the surface, just use your bench knife to get under it and add a little bit more flour. This bread doesn't take multiple days to make.

This bread you can make the same day. You need to mix your poolish the day before, but we're going to make this bread all in one day. After we're done kneading it, it will ferment for two hours and then we will divide it, and shape it and proof it. The proofing time on this bread is really fast. It's only about 30 minutes and we'll proof it and then we'll bake it.

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