On AFL (Australian Football League) Grand Final Day it's nice to kick-start the day with a fresh homemade baguette and a cup of coffee, then seek out the company of fellow football tragics (otherwise known as friends), have a slightly burned sausage from the barbecue, drink too much champagne, wear colours that don't flatter your complexion in the form of football scarves and cheer on a team you normally wouldn't support... or is that just me?
from Paul Allam and David McGuinness's Bourke Street Bakery
540g sourgdough starter
680 plain flour
10g fresh yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
Put the starter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the flour, yeast, water and salt. Mix on low speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
Divide the dough into seven even-sized portions, each weighing about 200g each. Shape into balls, place on a floured tray and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten it out to a thin rectangle and then fold it onto itself, into thirds (like a business letter). Turn the dough so that the folded seem is facing you and start to crimp the dough by pulling the dough over towards you and inwards, rolling it up to make a cylinder.
Roll the dough by lightly resting the palms of your hands in the middle of the cylinder. Push down and roll out with your hands to elongate the cylinder until it's about 30cm long and 5cm wide.
Make the pointy ends by rolling the ends firmly with your palms, moving your hands outwards and off the dough, pressing firmly as you go.
Preheat the oven to its highest temperature.
Put the rolled baguettes onto a well-floured tea towel, seam side up, making sure you lift the tea towel up between each baguette to create a barrier to they don't touch and stick to each other while resting. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and leave to rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.
To check if the baguettes are ready to cook, press one gently - it should bounce back. Gently place each baguette on a baking paper lined baking sheet, seam side down.
Slash the baguettes with a sharp knife. Five or six slashes along the middle of the baguette at regular intervals.
Place the baguettes in the oven and spray the oven with a water. Bake for 20-25 minutes.