Alpine Baguettes

It’s that time of year when the cold has finally sunk in, never quite “warming up” by mid-day. The puddles I see in the morning remain stiffly frozen in the street all throughout the day. The hours of sunlight are short and my walk home in the evening is usually in the dark. A good book, mug of tea, and warm blanket are about the best remedies to this sort of gray city winter weather. And so, I am left to contemplate the sunnier and warmer days. I do this by going for runs at the brightest times of day and dreaming of living somewhere that I could take advantage of the winter weather, skiing or snowshoeing everyday in the invigorating cold. I also tend to bake a lot more, enjoying the warmth of the oven and relaxing in the slower pace and necessary patience required to make a good loaf.

Alpine Baguette 1

So, I was curled up this weekend on the couch dreaming of what breads to bake and possible winter wonderlands that I could one day reside in when I came across this recipe for Alpine Baguettes in Daniel Leader’s Local Breads. He vividly describes the Austrian bakery where he acquired this recipe from, nestled away at the bottom of a ski mountain. The owner Clemens Walch is both an honored skier and craftsman baker. He is adamant about good quality rye bread and treats baking with rye sourdoughs as a fine art. Leader recounts his experience there baking by night with Clemens and skiing by day, learning more about the intricacies of German and Austrian ryes while enjoying himself in the alpine air.

By the time I finished reading this section in Local Breads, I was both very jealous of Leader’s experience and very eager to try this recipe. The loaves do not typify what immediately comes to my mind when I think of a baguette. It is flatter and fatter than your standard French baguette. The crust is thin and crisp while the insides are chewy and nutty. It is a wet dough, making it somewhat difficult to handle, but a pause in the kneading process allows the flour to absorb more water and strengthen. The seeds are also a pleasant surprise, especially the pumpkin seeds … slightly exotic, but utterly delicious. Needless to say, I would be thrilled to be greeted by one of these loaves fresh from the oven after a hard day of skiing. But for now, they’re pretty good enjoyed from my couch with some hot tea and a good book.


Alpine Baguettes
Yield: 3 thick baguettes, ~12 inches long (368 g each)

100 g mature, 100% hydration rye sourdough
28 g rolled oats
28 g sunflower seeds
28 g pumpkin seeds
28 g flax seeds
28 g sesame seeds
525 g water
5 g instant yeast
500 g unbleached bread flour
10 g sea salt

12 to 24 hours before mixing the final dough, refresh your sourdough. Also, pour the rolled oats and seeds into a bowl and cover them with 175 g water. Soak them overnight, so that they swell and soften.

When you are ready to mix the final dough, pour the remaining 350 g water over the sourdough in a large mixing bowl. Break up the sourdough with a spoon so that it froths and dissolves a bit. Add to this the yeast, bread flour, soaked oats and seeds, and salt. Stir well to combine.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and knead for approximately 10 minutes. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. Uncover the dough and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should be able to pass the window pane test.

Transfer the dough to an oiled container. Cover it and let is rise until it has doubled in volume (2 to 2 1/2 hours).

An hour before baking preheat the oven to 450 F with a baking stone and steam pan.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Flatten one piece of dough into a rectangle and fold it into thirds like a business letter. Turn it smooth side up. Repeat this process with the other two pieces. Cover the piece lightly and let rest on the counter for 10 minutes.

Shape the pieces of dough into a baguette about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide. Dust a piece of parchment paper with flour and place the baguettes on it, seam side down, about three inches apart. Cover lightly. Proof the baguettes at room temperature until they are puffy and light, 30-40 minutes.

Score the baguettes and slide them into the oven. Bake them with steam for 10-15 minutes and without steam for another 10-15. Turn the oven off and leave the baguettes in for another 5-10 minutes. Let the loaves cool for at least 30 minutes on a wire rack. These are delicious enjoyed warm.


11 Responses to “Alpine Baguettes”

  1. Gorgeous crumb. Love all the seeds in this.

  2. My first time here. U have an amazing collection!

  3. I am interested in this bread! Love rye bread. Love seeds. Love the open crumb!!

  4. I just got local breads as a gift a little while ago. I’ll have to check this bread and what he wrote about it out. The baguette is gorgeous! It looks like a yummy thing to eat with a cup of tea, snuggled up with a good book!!

  5. A seeded baguette, I love it. And I have to say your beautiful photo of the slice is just perfectly evocative of a late fall afternoon.

  6. Thanks for the comments. Seeds in bread are always such a treat. Have fun with this one!

  7. foosballoser Says:

    If I just have regular 100% hydration sourdough starter, is there a way to make rye starter from a portion of it? Thanks!

  8. Love all the grains folded into Austrian breads. Nice loaf.

  9. Completely gorgeous. You have convinced me to want to make the loaf just as that article convinced you!
    I do have a question though. Our starter has some rye, some wheat, some white, and a lot of love from the past few years of tending it, and I am curious about a strictly Rye starter. What does the article (or do you) say constitutes a ‘Rye Starter’? Maybe you have gone into this in another post, and if you have my apologies, but after now seeing your pictures I am waiting with baited breath!

  10. L*Joy- Sorry for the delayed response! A true rye starter is one that is started on rye flour and then continually fed with rye flour and water to whatever percent hydration desired. I am like you. My starter is a bit of a mutt. For a while now I’ve been feeding it with only white flour. When I want a rye starter, I remove some and make a separate batch of using rye flour. I suppose you could elaborate your starter with rye flour a few times before actually baking with it to make it a more “genuine” rye starter. If you want to do the real deal though, starting a new one from scratch is the way to go.

    I only have enough mouths to feed at the moment to take care of one starter at any time, so I just keep one. It’s adaptable and elaborating it with rye works in a pinch as a substitute.

    I hope you enjoy this recipe. It was a real pleasure!

  11. thanks for your information. I also can only handle the amount of bread from one starter, but when I was reading your comment I started dreaming about a whole wall of varying starters from varying places in our lives! Oh my goodness.

    for now, I will try to just bump up the Rye.
    thanks again.
    happy 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: