Monday, January 25, 2010

BBA: Poolish Baguette


Since I've been slacking on the breadmaking front the past couple of months, I figured it was about time for me to get back into the game! The Bread Baker's Apprentice challenge for me this week is Peter Reinhart's recipe for Poolish Baguette (which you can get from his book below, starting on page 213-214).


Bread Baker's Apprentice

This Poolish Baguette is also known as the Gosselin baguette. (And no, there's no relation to the Gosselin family!) What I learned from making this recipe is that 1) I need to get into my breadbaking mode again because I doubted myself a few times as I made this; 2) I never sifted whole wheat flour until now; and 3) if anything will test your patience, this bread recipe will.

As you may have thought, the bread starts with a poolish - a mixture of flour, water and yeast. This mixture is made a day before you make the bread and must be chilled overnight. On bread baking day, a cup of the poolish is added to sifted whole wheat flour, unbleached bread or all purpose flour, salt, yeast and water.

The hardest part of making this bread is having patience. The poolish alone requires 4 hours of fermenting at room temperature before it's chilled to use the following day. After combining the poolish with the rest of the ingredients, it must ferment at room temperature for 2 hours... then kneaded lightly before fermenting another 2 hours at room temperature. Finally, when you're anxious to form the bread, you have to wait another 50-60 minutes for the loaves to proof. Yeesh! But guess what? After all that, you only have to bake the bread 8-12 minutes. You take it out of the oven and if you're impatient (at least at this point) like me, you have to restrain yourself. Yep, those golden brown loaves you worked hard on all day have to sit and rest for at least 40 minutes before cutting into it. So is it worth all the wait?

Yes. At least I think so. I definitely need to practice some more but overall, the flavor was really good. Due to the wheat flour, there was some nutty notes, but it didn't have the same bite as a traditional wheat bread. That must be due to sifting the whole wheat flour and removing the bran. I even thought the bread was great to use for Classic Garlic Bread, so I can't complain.