Overnight Baguettes

This is the easiest baguette recipe ever, and it really works a charm. Baguettes were something I always struggled with – you want a higher hydration but this makes for a weaker dough that won’t hold its shape well. I saw this method by Philip Khoury on Instagram, and it has become my go-to dough for many recipes. I lowered the salt content slightly, just a personal preference of mine.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr strong bread flour
  • 350gr lukewarm water
  • 11gr salt
  • 3gr dried yeast

Makes 4 small baguettes or 2-3 long

Recipe:

In the evening, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir everything together well, then cover and leave for 30min.
With a firm rubber spatula, or a sturdy rounded dough scraper, scrape over the side and bottom of the bowl, then lift the dough and fold it over itself. Do this all around the bowl, until you have a nice and firm ball of dough. Rest for 30min. Do this at least 2, preferably 3 more times.
Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge.

Take the dough out in the morning, it should be nicely doubled in size. If yours seems a bit small, set the bowl in a warm-ish environment until it has puffed up sufficiently.
Take the dough out of the bowl, onto a well floured surface. Push the dough down and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Stretch each piece to, approximately 20x20cm rounded off squares. Place these on a floured baking tray (or your countertop if you don’t use the space). Leave for half an hour to let the gluten relax and the dough rise a bit.

Take the top of the dough square and fold it down about 2cm from the top. Push the fold with your fighertips. You don’t need a good seal, you are trying to build some coherence and some tension.
Roll the created hump down and seal again. Basically, you are rolling the dough up to a log, but pinching the dough together with yur fingertips each time instead of just rolling.
When fully rolled, put your hands on the ends and roll there to taper the ends.

Place your baguettes on a cloche, I have a piece of unbleached cotton especially for this, but you can use a tea towel as well. Rub it well with flour. Make a tall straight fold that you put your baguette next to. Then make another wall in the cloche, effectively creating a container for the baguette. This will support the dough during rising. Place the other baguettes next to the first, with a cloth “wall” between each. Cover with a floured towel.
Leave to rise until doubled in size. Depending on how cold your fridge was and the temperature in your kitchen, this can take anywhere between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile, put a pizza stone in the oven and heat for at least 30 minutes to the hottest your oven goes – 250°C if it manages. Also put a baking tray or oven proof dish on the oven base.
If you don’t have a pizza stone, use the thickest, heaviest baking tray you have available.

Once your baguettes are risen, place them on a peel (or anything without a rim so your baguettes can slide off easily). I sprinkle some polenta on the peel before putting my baguettes on, as this helps avoid any sticking.
Put the kettle on.

Slash the baguettes lengthwise, about 0.5cm deep. I like to make 3 cuts for small baguettes, or 4-5 for long ones, slightly diagonal but in the middle of the bread. This makes the bread open nicely while baking without losing its shape.
Spray the breads with water. Once, there is no need for them to be dripping wet, you only want to hold off the forming of a crust a little longer, for more rise.
Slide the baguettes onto the pizza stone – if only 2 fit, keep the others on the cloche in a somewhat cool place.
Poor some boiling water from the kettle onto the baking tray on the bottom of the oven. Quickly close the door and bake for 15-20 minutes.

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