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  1. To make the starter: In a large mixing bowl or bowl of your stand mixer, combine all the starter ingredients; cover and rest at room temperature for 4 to 8 hours, until bubbly.

  2. To make the dough: In the same bowl, combine all the dough ingredients in the order listed. Knead with the flat beater on low speed for 5 minutes. If mixing by hand, scrape the dough onto a floured surface and fold the dough in thirds repeatedly with the help of a bowl scraper.

  3. On a floured work surface, fold the dough in thirds. Turn it 90° (a quarter turn) and repeat the fold two more times. The dough will be fairly slack at first. Return to the bowl, cover, and let rise for 30 minutes.

  4. Repeat the folding process two more times, letting the dough rise for 30 minutes in between the two. Fifteen minutes after the last fold, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a rough rectangle (about 12" x 6") with the long side facing you.

  5. Fold 1 1/2" of the dough’s top edge down toward you; use the heel of your hand to seal. Keep folding and sealing the dough, working your way down the rectangle, until you have a log about 15" long. 

  6. Generously dust the inside of a long (15”) brotform with flour. Place the dough in the form seam side up. If you don't have a brotform, flour a tea towel or couche and use it to form a cradle for the dough. Place the shaped loaf inside, seam side up. Let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until it’s expanded and the top wobbles when you nudge the edge of the baguette.

  7. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 425°F with a baking stone or steel on the center rack. Place an oven-safe skillet in the bottom with 1" of hot water. 

  8. Turn the loaf out of the brotform or couche diagonally onto a sheet of parchment. Make 5 diagonal slashes in the top of the loaf and transfer, parchment and all, to the hot stone. 

  9. Bake for 21 to 23 minutes, until golden brown and the center reads 200°F on a digital thermometer. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before slicing. 

  10. Storage instructions: Store leftover bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days; freeze for longer storage. If serving more than 24 hours after baking, toast individual slices for best results.

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