Baguette Dough for Pain d’Epi

3 cups lukewarm water (680 grams)
1 tablespoon granulated yeast (10 grams)
1-1.5 tablespoons kosher salt (17-25 grams)
6 1/2 cups bread flour (920 grams) *see below for substituting all-purpose flour

To a 6-quart bowl or bucket with a loose fitting lid (not airtight), add the water, yeast, and the salt. Mix in the flour using a large spoon until it is incorporated.

Place a loose cover on the bowl/bucket and allow to rise for about 2 hours until the dough rises and then the top flattens. Move the bucket to the refrigerator with the loose lid still in place.

When you are ready to bake, place a baking stone in the middle of the oven with a broiler pan underneath. Preheat the oven to 450ºF for 20-30 minutes to be certain the stone is heated through.

While the oven preheats, remove the bucket from the refrigerator and dust the top with flour. Cut off a 1/2-pound chunk of dough and form into a ball, stretching the top of the dough around the sides to create a clean surface.

Place the dough on a floured surface and shape by stretching into a small oval. Pull the two long sides up to the middle and seal. Then place the seam side down and stretch the oblong piece of dough into a baguette shape, about 14″ long. Place the dough on a piece of parchment on top of a pizza peel or a baking sheet with no sides (for sliding onto the stone) and allow to rest for 20 minutes.

When the oven and stone are preheated and the dough has rested, dust the surface with flour. Take a kitchen shears and cut into one end of the dough at about a 45º angle towards the bottom of the dough, leaving 1/4″ of dough connected. Be careful not to snip through the entire width of the dough. Continue cutting leaving 3″ between cuts and pulling the sliced dough ends to the opposite side as the one before it until you read the end of the dough.

Prepare one cup of warm water to add to the broiler pan. Slide the sliced dough and parchment directly onto the hot stone, pouring the water into the broiler pan and then quickly closing the oven door.

Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is brown and firm. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Unused dough can be covered with a loose lid and placed back in the refrigerator. One recipe makes 7 1/2-pound loaves.

*You can substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour (910 grams of ap flour) with similar results, but not as well-defined and pointed pieces.

Makes 7 loaves.

Adapted from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, reprinted with permission.

Copyright © Food for My Family.

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