How to make Sourdough baguettes (Possibly the best bread I've Eaten)

SOurdough baguette recipe thumbnail

hard

 18 - 22 hours

france

I didn't have big expectations for sourdough baguettes at first. I mean I love my authentic baguette with poolish recipe and well, would sourdough really enhance a baguette?

After tasting them I realised I was wrong! I've tried many baguettes in top bakeries in France, Spain and the UK and these are the best baguettes I have ever eaten.

Actually they could be the best breads I've ever eaten too...

So good are these sourdough baguettes, I was debating on whether I should share the recipe.

But I'm not that cruel!


Ingredients 

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For the sourdough biga:

     64g  Sourdough


     58g  Water


   128g  White bread flour



For the dough:

   640g  White bread flour


   365g  1st water


   250g  Mature sourdough biga


     13g  Salt


     64g  2nd water


During the recording of the video I made some tweaks to the recipe by increasing the water and the bulk fermentation time. They are only small changes but so you are clear, these adaptations have been altered in the recipe and method so use the timings and amounts written here.

How to make sourdough baguettes video tutorial


1

Refresh the sourdough to make a biga

Make the boga 12-14 hours before starting the dough. To do this, measure the water into a bowl, add the sourdough and then the flour. Give it a mix for a minute or two until the mixture has an even consistency. Cover, and leave on the kitchen table for 12-14 hours. When the biga is developed it will have large bubbles breaking on the surface. 

2

Weigh the ingredients for the dough and combine

The next day, weigh the remaining ingredients. In a large bowl, add the biga to the water and combine with the flour. All of the ingredients should now be added except the 2nd water and the salt.

3

Start the autolyse

Use a plastic dough scraper around the edges of the bowl to combine the ingredients into an even mass. Place a bag over the bowl and leave on the table for 30 minutes.

4

Mixing the ingredients

After the dough has rested, use a plastic dough scraper to empty the dough into a mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add the salt and mix gently for 6 minutes.

5

Add the second water

Set a timer for 8 minutes and increase the speed of the mixer. After one minute, add the second water to the bowl - it might be use to slow down the mixers speed temporarily for this! Continue fast mixing until the timer ends. The dough is strong and thin when stretched (windowpane test), if not mix for a few more minutes and check again.

6

Bulk fermentation

Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and leave to rest. If the dough is warm and sticky (use a temperature probe (+25C or 77F) to be precise) use the fridge, otherwise it can be left on the kitchen counter. Leave for 1 hour. 

7

Stretch and fold

Remove the dough from the bowl and complete a stretch and fold. Just gently knead it for 30 seconds if you find this difficult.

8

Bulk fermentation continued

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover and leave to rest for another hour.

9

Divide the dough

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured worktop. Using a metal dough scraper, divide the dough into 280g pieces.

10

Preshaping

Shape the pieces into cylinder shapes and leave on a lightly floured area of the table to bench rest for 20 minutes. Once relaxed, from the centre of the dough, roll out using both hands until the length of the baguette is formed. This should be about 30cm, you can taper the ends if you wish. As you shape each one, transfer onto a floured couche or tea towel.

11

Prepare the couche

Leave the dough to proof on the table for a short 20 minute rise.

12

Shaping

Leave the dough to proof on the table for a short 20 minute rise.

13

Final proof

Cover the baguettes with a spare section of the couche (or with another dusted couche/tea towel) and leave to proof for 3-4 hours. Preheat the oven to 250C (480F) in this time with a baking stone and a lipped baking sheet below it. It is best to use bottom heat only setting if your oven allows. When ready for the oven, the dough should be smooth and just pass the poke test. Slightly under proofed dough is preferred for baguettes.

14

Cutting

Take a long baguette peel* to remove the baguette from the couche. Straighten the baguette slightly with your hands if you need to. Using a lame, make 3-4 angled slashes in the dough and then drop the bread gently onto the baking stone. Repeat for the remaing dough pieces whilst leaving a gap of an inch or two between for them to expand during baking.


You might not fit all of them in the oven in one go. If this is the case, place the couche in the fridge whilst the first batch bake, taking care to keep them flat.

15

Baking

Once the baguetts are in the oven, pour a couple of cups of boiling water on the hot baking sheet and quickly shut the door. Change the oven setting to top and bottom heat setting and bake for 20-25 minutes, opening the oven door after 15 to check up on them and release some of the steam.

16

Remove from the oven

Once the bread has a nice, dark but golden colour, remove from the oven using a peel and allow to cool.

17

Cooling

Leave to cool for 1 hour before eating. Enjoy!

Top tips for the best sourdough baguettes


You can make this bread by hand if you wish. Simply increase the fast kneading time to 12 minutes, you can always place the dough in the fridge for 5 minutes halfway through to give your arms a rest! For slow and fast kneading techniques check out the 6 of the best ways to hand knead bread dough article.

Artisan baguettes should be eaten within 4 hours. You may want to put some in the freezer to eat in the following days. Alternatively divide the dough and retain a portion to cold proof in the fridge (retard) to bake the following day.

You may want to extend the bulk fermentation for another hour or two for the dough to become more gassy. I would normally encourage this but these baguettes were so bloody nice I wouldn't worry too much!

*If you don't have a baguette peel you can make do with a thin chopping board. Try to avoid melting it on the hot baking stone if it's plastic!

You have to work fast when placing the baguettes in the oven one by one like this. If you have a large board or peel you can prepare them on their and slide them into the oven in one go.

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