The Baguette Master this basic recipe and you can shape it to produce baguettes, ficelles, or bâtards whenever you like.
12 hrs or overnight
Rising and proofing time:
3 1⁄2 hrs
For the sponge:
1⁄8 tsp dried yeast
1⁄3 cup bread flour
1 tbsp rye flour
vegetable oil, for greasing
For the dough:
1 tsp dried yeast
1 2⁄3 cups bread flour, plus extra for
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 Dissolve the yeast in 1⁄3 cup warm water and add to the 2 types of flour.
2 Form a sticky, loose dough and place in an oiled bowl, with room for it to expand.
3 Cover with plastic wrap and put in a cool place to rise for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
4 To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in 2⁄3 cup warm water, whisking to help it dissolve.
5 Put the risen sponge, flour, and salt into a large bowl and pour in the yeast liquid.
6 Stir it all together with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.
7 Knead for 10 minutes on a floured surface, until smooth, soft, glossy, and elastic.
8 Place in oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
9 Place it on a floured surface. Knock it back. Divide into 2 for baguettes or 3 for ficelles.
10 Knead briefly and shape each piece into a rectangle. Tuck one short edge into the center.
11 Press down firmly, fold over the other short edge, and press firmly again.
12 Shape the dough into a rounded oblong. Pinch to seal and turn seam-side down.
13 Shape into a long, thin log. A baguette is 1 1⁄2in (4cm) wide, a ficelle 3⁄4–1 1⁄4in (2–3cm).
FOR A BÂTARD LOAF:
Knead all the dough briefly and shape it into a rough rectangle. Tuck the furthest edge into the center, press it, then do the same with the nearest edge. Turn it over to tuck the seam underneath and gently shape it so it tapers at the ends.
14 Put loaves on baking sheets and cover with oiled plastic wrap and a kitchen towel.
15 Keep warm for 11⁄2 hours until doubled. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
16 Slash the loaf deeply diagonally along the top, or crisscross for a bâtard.
17 Dust with a little flour, spray it with water, and place on the middle rack of the oven.
18 Bake for 15 minutes for a ficelle, 20 for a baguette, and 25–30 for a bâtard. Let it cool.