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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baguette using biga

Traditional lean baguette with thin,chewy crust

After the enthusiastic reception of the biga based focaccia, I ventured to bake my first baguette.  Considering the number of breads I have baked, this one would have been a non event except that I baked this using a convection microwave oven that has a turntable. Because of the oven 'feature', the length of my baguette was neither here nor there.

Scoring , the slitting of bread to enhance oven spring, is one of the final but important step to ensure a bread  blooms under the oven heat. However, I do not own any  sharp razors , and the result was  a poor score and less than perfect bread.

Back to baguette. The biga based dough was a dream to work with, neither too tacky or overly dry.  Like the previous focaccia project, this bread offered  an open texture .My short baking time and high heat yielded a chewy but thin crust which  is my preferred texture for a rustic bread.
Eat fresh and enjoy the crackly thin crust

It was a luxury to have lunch made from freshly baked baguette. All the more so, sharing the time with my daughter and trading stories of the day. Suddenly, problems with scoring and not-long-not-short bread took a back seat and did not really matter any more.

Makes 2 medium baguettes .

Baguette with wheat germ
Ingredients :

Biga :
64g water,room temp
100g bread flour
Pinch instant yeast

Final dough :
140g water,room temp
3g malt syrup
All of the above biga
220g bread flour
1g instant yeast
5g sea salt flakes,crushed

Topping :
Wheat germ  ( optional )

Method :
The night before , biga preparation :
Mix flour and yeast in  a bowl, stir in water to combine. Knead to a ball.  It will be slightly dry but manageable.
Transfer ball to an oiled bowl and let it rise to double in bulk, covered.
Chill for 2-3 hours.
Remove from the chiller and let it ferment for 10-12 hours at room temperature, after which it should yield a slack, bread like dough.

The next day , making the final dough :
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl, minus salt. Set aside.
In a mixer, combine water,malt and biga. Mix to break up the biga.
Add the bowl of flour, except water , to the broken up biga mix.
Knead for 2 minutes. Add salt. Knead again, 8 minutes.
Dough should have an improved gluten structure.
Transfer  dough to an oiled bowl to ferment for 60 minutes, covered.

On a floured surace,remove risen dough. Fold into thirds. Rest for 10 minutes.

Shaping the bagette :
Divide dough to 2 portions.
For each portion, elongate the dough on a floured surface, working from the middle to the ends.
Bring the ends to the middle, pinch  ends to seal.
Elongate by rolling, from the  middle outwards.
Transfer to a well floured cloth.
Let it proof a second time, 60 minutes or until almost double in bulk, in a warm,enclosed place.
Cover dough with cloth.

Repeat the same for the second portion.

Preparing for baking :
Preheat oven to 250C.
Roll the dough with some wheat germ or flour , with the rocking movement of the cloth.
Transfer dough from the cloth to a bagette holder. I do not own one and used a container instead.
Slash , at 45 degrees, along the surface of the dough with a very sharp blade.
Mist spray the dough surface.
Just before baking, lightly sprinkle wheat germ if desired . Mist spray one more time.
Repeat the same for the other portion.

Baking :
Reduce temperature to 230 C.
Bake the 2 loaves for 20 minutes. Bread is ready when is gives out a hollow sound when tapped.
Remove from container immediately  and cool on a rack.


  1. 10-12 hours biga fermentation after chilling is at room temp?
    I think this bauguette stays good for at least 2 days, right?

  2. Yes Wendy, fermentation for 10-12 hours at room temperature. Thank you for asking. I have clarified the recipe accordingly.
    The bread was on my counter for 2 day. I chilled the last 3 slices on day 3. The bread keeps well and tastes like day 1 on day 3, minus the crispy crust. That one, I solved my toasting 1 minute.

  3. I have not tried baking breads using a biga. Now, seeing how nice your baguettes are baked, I'm keen to try this fermentation technique.