The one thing you must do if you want to make homemade French baguettes is plan ahead. While there are only a few ingredients and they are not hard to make, there is a lot of down time waiting for the dough to rise in different stages. Just start a full day ahead of when you’d like to eat the baguettes and enjoy the process. Start by making a poolish. A poolish is what we call a pre-ferment – a starter dough that is made ahead of time and it is key to giving your bread great flavor. Other examples of a pre-fermented doughs are sourdough, levain or biga. The nice thing about using a poolish as a starter for baguettes is that it is made once, takes just 12 hours and is used in its entirety when you make the baguette dough – you don’t have to keep and feed it like you do with a sourdough starter. It’s as simple as stirring three ingredients together – flour, water and yeast.
After 12 to 18 hours at room temperature, your poolish will look like the image below – slightly increased in volume and bubbly.