Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baguettes with Poolish and Pâte Fermentée

Yes, I haven't posted in a while. I finished the July breads in the middle of the month so there was a week or so when I didn't have the next set of recipes. Then I was out of town for another week. But mostly I've been baking without writing. So it is time to catch up!

I begin with two new baguettes recipes. These recipes are quite similar, so I cover both in this post. They differing only in the preferment—one using a poolish (a wet preferment with a batter-like consistency) and the other a pâte fermentée (a dryer preferment with the same consistency as the final dough). Both produced a lovely dough and a bread very similar to straight dough
French Bread previously described on this blog. Neither bread has good keeping qualities. They are usable the second day, but that's about the limit. This is about the same or slightly better than the French Bread. (Hint: You can take stale bread, rub it with water, wrap it in foil, and then reheat it in a low oven. This will soften the bread, but you will need to use it quickly.)

Compared to the pâte fermentée, the poolish produced a dough that was slightly more elastic, slightly less extensible, gave a slightly better rise, seemed a bit sweeter and less sour, and had a slightly more open crumb. But I hesitate to mention these differences because all these differences were quite, quite small. Had I not had the breads side-by-side, the differences would not have been noticeable. For a practical considerations, the breads were the same.

The recipe produced a nice, satiny dough that was fun to play with. This inspired me to play around with different shapes. Using ideas from Peter Reinhart's books, Ciril Hitz's videos, and Lionel Vatinet's presentation at the Asheville Artisian Bread Festival, I made baguettes, a couple of baguette variants, an epi, a variation on an epi, and a corrone de bordoulaise. Previously, I'd made baguettes and epis, but little else. All of these variations proved easy and fun, definitely something I'd do again.

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