This bread has a savory quality that plays nicely against the chocolate and dried cherries. It's a great choice for making French toast, too.
Make Ahead: The poolish, or pre-ferment starter, must be made at least 12 hours in advance. The baguette dough needs to rest/rise/proof a total of 4 times.
Yield: Makes four 16-inch baguettes
- For the poolish
- 1 3/8 cups water (75 degrees)
- 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 3/8 cups bread flour, preferably Sir Galahad/King Arthur brand
- For the dough
- 5 cups plus 1 tablespoon bread flour, preferably Sir Galahad/King Arthur brand
- 1 1/2 cups water (75 degrees)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
- 3 1/2 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 3 1/2 ounces dried tart cherries (preferably black), whole or chopped
For the poolish: Place the water in a medium mixing bowl. Add the yeast and mix briefly to combine, then add the flour, using a spoon to mix until smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel; let the poolish sit at room temperature (68 to 73 degrees) overnight.
For the dough: Combine the 5 cups of flour, the water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer (fitted with a dough hook), then add the poolish. Beat on low speed to incorporate. Remove from the stand mixer; cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes to 1 hour to further develop the gluten; this is known as the autolyse technique.
Return the bowl to the stand mixer. Add the salt and beat at low speed for 3 minutes; the dough should come together. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes; the dough should hold its shape and have some resistance. (Ideally, the temperature of the dough should be 76 degrees at this point.)
Combine the chocolate chips and dried cherries with 1 tablespoon of flour in a small bowl, stirring to coat evenly.
Stop the mixer to add the coated chocolate chips and dried cherries; beat on low speed until well incorporated.
Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease the inside of a large mixing bowl.
Remove the dough from the bowl; fold it into a large ball, turning the folds under. Place in the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel; place in a warm spot free of drafts (such as on top of an oven). Let it sit for 1 hour, then fold the dough over on itself. Let the dough sit for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Lightly flour a clean work surface.
Use a scale to divide the dough evenly into four 12-ounce portions. Pat any air bubbles from the dough and roll each portion into a cylinder. Cover the cylinders and let them sit on the floured surface for 30 minutes.
Press each cylinder of dough into a flat rectangle. Working with the long side of the rectangle facing you, fold down the top third of the dough to cover the middle third, then fold up the bottom third to cover the top fold, as you would fold a business letter. Pinch the resulting long, thin cylinder of dough into a baguette shape.
Line an inverted rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the 4 baguettes on it (spaced about 2 inches apart), then cover with a clean dish towel and let them rest for 1 hour or until almost doubled in bulk.
Place a rectangular pizza stone or inverted baking sheet on the middle oven rack; preheat to 460 degrees.
Just before baking, use a sharp knife to score the tops of the baguettes. Fill a clean spray bottle with water, then lightly spray the tops of the baguettes. Transfer them on the parchment paper to the pizza stone or inverted baking sheet in the oven. Spray water inside the oven; bake for 22 to 26 minutes, checking on the color and crunch near the end of baking.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Adapted from Patrick Deiss, artisan baker at 2941 restaurant in Falls Church.
Tested by Melissa McCart.
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