The appeal of a baguette has much to do with convenience. It is an easy bread to slip under your arm to carry home from the bakery and simple enough to split in half with butter and ham. Unlike long-fermenting sourdough, a baguette comes together in a few hours. The miso that Emerson Manibo uses in his baguettes at Starter Lab adds a little funk, an easy way of making something old new again.
- Mix all ingredients in a clear bowl until the consistency of a milkshake. Cover with a towel and let sit overnight or about twelve hours. Poolish will increase in volume by about a third and develop bubbles when it is ready to use. It should last about eight hours.
- In a clear container, incorporate flour into water and poolish until dough forms. Let rest 30 minutes.
- Massage miso into the dough while slowly adding water by hand, one splash at a time. Continuously knead until the dough has the stretch and pull of taffy, adding salt in the final kneads. (If you're using a mixer, medium or low speed is best.) Let sit for roughly three hours or until dough has doubled in size. The clear container will help you judge that.
- On a board dusted with flour mix, divide the dough into three equal parts, folding the loose shapes into something roughly the size of a California burrito. Bench rest for 15-30 minutes.
- With floured hands, form the dough into baguette shapes. Start by pressing your thumbs into the dough and folding it into itself, a little like the way a good wave forms a tube in the ocean. Seal and roll these folds with the heel of your palm until you have a roughly two-inch-thick tube, tapered at the ends.
- Dust a large, clean kitchen towel (or a couche, if you have one) with flour and lay the three loaves on it, divided by folds of fabric. Cover and let rest again for two hours.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Transfer loaves to a sheet pan dusted with flour mix and score with a razor or scissors.
- Bake for roughly 25 minutes, spritzing with water at least twice during that time. Keep an eye on the bread. You're looking for a glossy, golden-brown crust. A too-dark baguette will be too hard and not chewy.
- With gloves, remove the baguettes from the sheet pan and let cool on the rack for 20 minutes. Enjoy.
Lately, Wyatt Williams has been in Bali, a little burned out, and not sure about what's next. His writing has been published by The New York Times Magazine, Oxford American, The Paris Review, and others.