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Antoines Favorite Baguettes:
Just saying the word baguette has a way of transporting people to Paris, after the second world war. The air was rich with victory, the promise of a brighter future and- baguettes. GI’s came home after the war raving about baguettes, that amazing bread from France.
Since then, they’ve had their ups and downs, but these are very very good.
A quick note, if you use instant dry yeast, do not mix it with the water, mix it with the flour and skip the step about letting it bloom in the water. Instant dry yeast doesn’t do well with blooming.
If you use active dry yeast, then bloom the yeast.
How do you know which yeast you’re using? The label should tell you. Also, “Rapid Rise” is an instant yeast optimized for bread machine use. I prefer to avoid it.
In a bowl, combine the water, and salt then mix it with a whisk. If you are using active dry yeast, add it to the water, whisk some more and then let it rest for 2 minutes. Time to activate the yeast.
Add the 2 types of flour and mix until there is no dry flour left. Let it rest for 20 minutes, which is enough time for the yeast to start working
Mix for 5 minutes with a mixer or 10 minutes by hand, put the dough in a bowl with a damp towel over it, and place it in the fridge to ferment over night. The overnight rest allows the bread to develop many rich flavors. When you cut the rest short, you cut the flavors short as well.
The next day take the dough out, and let it warm up for a couple of hours on a floured counter top.
Cut the dough in balls of 250gr. gently pat the dough to a rough rectangle. Fold the bottom third just like you would for a letter and press to seal. Repeat with the left top third. Roll slightly the dough so the seal you just create is up and gently push it down with the edge of your hand. Now working your way from the outside to the inside, roll the down to obtain a baguette that is 18"long with tapered ends.
Place the baguette in a couche or towel rippled in a way so the baguette don't touch, yet support each other side to side and let them proof for 1.5 to 2 hours.
Heat your oven to 450F to 500F, rake all of the ashes, mop the hearth to create some steam.
Score the baguettes, and place them in the oven.
They should cook for 10 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped at the bottom.