We use a poolish, a liquid, commercially yeasted pre-ferment, which ferments for 15 hours and then is added into the baguette dough. The benefit of the poolish is improved extensibility and adds a complex flavor to the bread. Prior to mixing the dough we do an autolyse, a process used which creates a mixture from flour and water and is let to rest for 30 minutes. The benefits of an autolyse are improved extensibility, better crumb structure, shorter mix time, higher hydration.
After a 90 second mix time we allow the dough to ferment, during which time we do one punch and fold. A punch and fold is a process where we put the dough on the bench and stretch and fold it to aid in the proper development of the dough. We are able to assess the dough during the punch and fold and make adjustments to it, depending on whether it is weak, strong, wet, or dry.
We scale the baguettes at 350 grams and pre-shape each piece into a loose bâtard, which rests for 30 minutes. We then hand shape the baguettes and let them rest on a linen couche. Shaping baguettes is difficult, shaping just enough to get proper strength and dough tension, rolling the baguette out just once and getting a uniform shape with plenty of gas left inside the baguette. Overshaping a baguette leads to a dense, chewy bread. A proper baguette should have a nice open crumb structure.
The final proof of the baguette is roughly an hour. Before going into the oven the baguettes are scored with a razor blade, which allows the loaf to open up un a controlled manner, encouraging an open crumb structure and giving the baguette a prettier crust. The baguette bakes for 25 minutes at about 450 degrees in a stone hearth oven that steams the bread to help develop the crisp crust and add shine.