I really contemplated trying to do the Pain à l’Ancienne since I pretty much screwed the pooch the first time I tried it, but I’m just not quite ready to jump into the deep end again. So this time I decided to try to the Poolish Baguettes.
I’ve baked with a poolish before, which is a pre-fermentation of yeast, flour, and water, in the consistency of a thick pancake batter, that you combine the night before, and let ferment overnight.
The next morning I added the remaining ingredients, mixed them all together, and kneaded it with the dough hook in the mixer. I’ve gotten pretty lazy about using the food mixer (even though the recipe gives me permission) and I am hoping to start kneading by hand, but when you’re chasing around two kids, it’s easy to drop the mixture in the mixer and turn it on. The dough came out looking good, so I was feeling pretty confident at this point.
I got the dough rolled into a ball and placed it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for about 2 hours until it doubled in size.
At this point, I was ready to try what I thought would be the hardest part, which is rolling the baguette shape. Of course the book makes it look so easy, and it actually was, considering the end result. You basically create a crease down the middle of the stretched out dough, fold it over itself and roll it out a bit. The end result looked like it could potentially take on baguette form.
The tough part of this recipe is that after you let the dough rise, then shape it, you have to let it sit again for another 90 minutes for a second rise. Patience is not my strong suit. Finally, after the second rise and some quality time in a super hot oven, baguettes made their inaugural appearance at the Jackson house!
In the end, I think I got pretty close with these. They were by no means perfect, and there was definitely zero consistency from a size and shape perspective, but dammit, they tasted pretty good, so back off! This is one I do want to try to make again – the baguette is the bread of choice for us, the tough thing is the time commitment. Planning my families weekend day around proofing and baking bread is not really going over well, so we will have to see. I am pretty sure if I can convince my 16 month old it is in his best interests for the long term, we’ll be golden.