On Bounty every watch had a chore to do, most of it was dishes, galley clean up, sweeping and mopping floors and cleaning the heads (toilets). The best chore of all was on the midnight to 4am watch, making bread.
This was the captain’s idea, the bread that the crew was producing went right back to them for snacks, it gave the cook one less thing to do. One afternoon the whole crew was gathered for a bread making lesson, the captain didn’t measure anything, just threw together flour, yeast, salt and water. Most of the loaves turned out not so great, hard bricks, I think it was a combination of using too hot of water and not kneading long enough. Eventually the cook had enough, she was tried of having ingredients go to waste, the bread would sit out and not get eaten because it was a poor texture. She no longer let the crew make bread in the middle of the night.
I was really disappointed; my watch group had not rotated to the 12-4am watch so I didn’t get a chance to make bread. One afternoon when I saw the cook making bread I asked her if she would teach me, I knew there had to be more to it than just what the captain had shared. For whatever reason she saw potential in me, I followed direction well and we had a good relationship. From then on I was the only one allowed to make bread in the middle of the night. Eventually I came to her with recipes I’d picked out myself, soon those became everyone’s favorite and I perfected a variety of breads.
It was time to get serious about bread, I did a lot of research, eventually I discovered cold fermentation; make the dough, let it sit in the fridge for a few days, then bake it. Having everything sit together for a few days allows for more flavor development from the ingredients and the environment. Letting the bread spend up to 4 days in the fridge makes a huge difference, it develops so much flavor, I’d say it not even worth if if you only have time for it to sit overnight. This baguette is rich in flavor with a fluffy interior and a crunchy crust, take the time to make this and you’ll never want to buy a baguette again.
Important! This recipe must be made in advance, at least 1 day before baking, best if made 4 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Mix all of the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Start the machine and in a steady stream pour in 1 ¾ cup of water, mix until it forms a shaggy ball, let rest 5 minutes so the flour has a chance to absorb the liquid, this prevents adding too much liquid to the dough and having to adjust with more flour.
Turn the mixer back on to low speed and add the reaming water if needed, you are looking for a moist dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl with no dryness. Knead the dough for 8 minutes. The dough should end up being tacky, sticks to your fingers but pulls away clean.
Grease a large Tupperware or bowl, large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. After the bread has finished kneading place it in the prepared bowl and spray the top to reduce the surface drying. Cover and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days. I recommend at least 2 for more flavor, 4 for best flavor.
On the day you want to bake, let the dough rest on the counter for 2 hours to come to room temperature. To shape the dough divide it in half, this is where I like to use a square container to let the dough rise in so that the shape is almost there to start with. Working lengthwise pull half of the dough to the center line pressing with your fingertips to seal it, bring the other half of the dough to the same centerline. Pinch the two sides together pulling the skin of the loaf tight, flip it over and make any final adjustments to the shape.
Place both shaped loaves onto a greased tray, spray the top of the loaves with spray oil to prevent the skin from drying out, top with a towel and let rest for at least one hour, maybe longer if your kitchen is cold. You know your bread has risen enough when you lightly touch the bread and the dent remains.
Preheat your oven to 550F or as high as your oven will go, place a rimmed baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven and allow to heat up with the oven.
When the oven is hot and the bread risen slash the loaf, place in the oven and add a cup of water or ice cubes on the lower tray. Quickly close the door and turn down the oven to 450F. Bake for 30 minutes until you have an even golden brown crust.
I’m a tall ship cook, I prefer to cook with water beneath me, no land in sight and lots of mouths to feed. I like to play with bold flavors, pushing people’s taste buds in new directions and using a recipe as a guideline, my hands are my measuring spoons. Read More about “About Me”…