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Sourdough Baguettes

The music-to-your-ears crunchy baguette crust encases soft, tangy bread that tastes sensational on its own, slathered with butter, or stuffed with your favourite fillings. We won’t tell you what to do with your bread, but this recipe from our sourdough expert Bryan Ford (@artisanbryan) will tell you exactly how to make it like a pro. 

Warning: side effects may include drooling.

Ingredients
For levain build
50g (1.8oz) mature sourdough starter
25g (1 tbsp) organic whole wheat flour
75g (2.6oz) organic bread flour
70g (2.5oz) warm water

For the Final Mix
500g (17.6oz) all purpose flour
10g (2tsp) kosher salt
100g (3.5oz) levain (see above)
Up to 375g (13.2oz) warm water

Method
First, you’ll need to build your levain – simply mix all the levain ingredients together in a large bowl and rest at an ambient temp (72-75˚F/22-23˚C) for 3-4 hours. You’ll know when it’s ready to use – not just because of the volume increase, but because when you give it a pull you’ll see a web-like structure has developed.

Next, add 300g (10.5oz) of your warm water to your developed levain and mix to dissolve. 

Add 500g (17.6oz) of your all-purpose flour to the liquid and mix until no dry flour is left. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. 

Add the salt and the last drops of water a little at a time, then squeeze and slap the dough with your hands until everything is fully incorporated. Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl, cover and let rest.

After 30 minutes, perform a gentle stretch and fold: lift the dough up from each corner and fold it into the middle. Repeat this step every 30 minutes for 1 and a half hours. 

Allow the dough to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, then leave it in the refrigerator overnight for 12 hours. (Alternatively, you could do an 8 hour warm bulk if you started early in the morning).

What you’re looking for at the end of this bulk fermentation, is a bubbly surface, a strong and slightly sweet smell, and a web-like structure at the bottom.

The next day, it’s time to shape your dough! On a lightly floured work surface, divide your dough into 300g/200g (10.5oz/7oz) pieces depending on whether you’re cooking full sized baguettes on the stone, or mini baguettes in a cast iron pan. 

To shape, first form each piece into a kind of triangle. Grab the tip of the triangle and fold it into the centre with your fingertips. Continue folding the dough inwards, scooping from the bottom with your palms. Do this 2-3 times, and then switch to using the inside of your thumbs to push and roll into the baguette shape.

To elongate your baguette, use the palm of your hands and roll the dough back and forth, using more pressure or either side to thin the ends. 

Transfer the baguettes to a wooden chopping board coated in fine semolina, top with a dusting of flour and semolina, and let proof for 3 hours. You’ll know the baguettes are ready when the dough has expanded slightly, and is bouncy to the touch.

While the dough is proofing, fire up your Ooni pizza oven. Aim for 420˚C (800˚F) on the stone baking board inside. You can check the temperature inside your Ooni quickly and easily using the Ooni Infrared Thermometer. Once the oven is up to temperature, let the heat reduce to about 260˚C (500˚F). Aim for a low flame – too high a flame might burn the baguettes. 

Cut two baguette shaped pieces of parchment paper and lay them on your Ooni Pizza Peel with a coating of semolina. Transfer two baguettes to the parchment on the peel, score, then load into your pizza oven. 

If you’re cooking with cast iron, make sure to line your pan with a layer of parchment and semolina too. 

Bake for 7-8 minutes before checking the baguettes to rotate them. Remove the parchment when rotating. If cooking with wood, add a couple of small bits of wood to keep the temp but avoid creating big flames.

Bake for a further 10 or so minutes, until the breads are brown and crispy on the outside and on the bottom. Give your breads a good old fashioned tap, if it sounds hollow  – you’re golden!

Slide, tear and serve your baguettes. They’re extra delicious served warm, topped with butter dipped in olive oil.

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