Levain Bakery is located on New York City's Upper West side but it bakes with a distinct French accent. Co-founded by two friends who had worked in the fashion and finance industries, the bakery has won kudos from Zagat and others for its artisanal methods and the authentic flavors of its breads and pastries.
In bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast and warm water until creamy. Using dough hook, add the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the cool water. Mix until a smooth, elastic dough forms, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.
Grease a double baguette pan and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide the dough into two 12-by-6-inch rectangles. Form the dough into baguettes. Transfer baguettes to the prepared pan, laying each seam-side down. Cover with plastic wrap and let proof overnight in the refrigerator.
When the dough has proofed completely (see Chef Tip: The Poke Test), preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly flour the top of each baguette. With a razor blade or very sharp paring knife, score the top of each baguette lengthwise 3 to 4 times. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until crusty and golden, about 30 minutes.
Makes 2 baguettes.
Chef's Tip for Mixing Dough
When first combining water and flour, it is essential to create dough with the right consistency. If dough is too wet and sticky, add a bit more flour. If dough is too dry and hard, add a bit more cool water.
Chef's Tip for Forming Baguettes
Divide the dough into two rectangles. Fold the long edge of one rectangle over to meet the other edge and pinch the seam to seal. Roll up into a log, flatten, fold, and pinch again. Continue 2 or 3 times more until you have a baguette long enough to fit your pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Chef's Tip for The Poke Test
Poke the refrigerated dough with a finger. If the indentation holds, you're ready to bake. If dough bounces back, let it sit in a warm spot until it passes the test.
Recipe courtesy of Levain Bakery, New York.