The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

ckujawa's blog

ckujawa's picture

So the baking continues. With three upcoming interviews I want to make sure I'm on my game, so I decided to do one of my favorite breads to make--with a twist. I LOVE making baguettes. Wait. Let's be honest...I LOVE EATING baguettes. Making them is Ok. Especially when they're higher hydration, which I find challenging still. But whatever...a challenge is a challenge and I'm not usually one to let that stop me. 

So I dug out one of my favorite recipes for country baguette--from Martin Philip's wonderful book"Bread Making--A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes" and got at it. And ran immediately into challenge #1: I didn't read his advice on equipment BEFORE buying a I have what I was comfortable with--one of the older spring type scales that measures down to the ounce...and 100kg increments. But if your familiar with Martin's formulas, they're in ounces.'s just math, right? So I grabbed pen and paper and got to it:

Liquid levain:
3 ounces APF
4 ounces water
2 tablespoons (exactly...honest ;) ) sourdough culture (discard? same thing...)

The Rest of the Story:

9 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour (I used hard winter wheat (red) because it seems to work better here)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast (Martin's idea...not mine but it does seem to deepen the flavor)
the levain I put together last night

Bulk ferment: 2hrs, slap and fold every 20 minutes for the first hour and leave it alone for the second
pre-shape into tubes, rest 15 shape into baguettes
let rise 30 minutes then preheat the over to 500 degrees F (I add a pan with water for steam)

Bake 5 minutes, remove steam, drop temp to 425 and bake for 20 minutes or so more (internal temp of 190-200 degrees F)

Sounds easy enough, right? And it was...until I discovered that I didn't flour my couche *quite* enough. Ugh. So much for the first perfect loaf. And then I realized that I had neglected to MEASURE the baguette shapes against the baguette pan I have--and they were too long. I also made the mistake of trying to pick the first baguette up from the ends (hey...I was gentle!). I KNOW BETTER. It proceeded to droop in the center--making it even longer! GREAT! I threw that loaf at the pan in disgust (gently!) and ROLLED the next one out of the couche. Still too long, but much better. Rinse and repeat with contestant number 3, adjusting the last two onto the pan and resigning myself to making croutons. Finally, I grab my $8 lame and *try* to make good, solid cuts, but the tool fails me again (it's curved and I've never been able to get the foolish curve thing figured out). Croutons are looking really good...besides I love them on salad. didn't take long for the baguettes to spring in the oven and the result wasn't quite as terrible as I thought it would be. Would I serve them to company? Not without cutting them (into croutons) but hey, it's dang tasty!

Cut baguette with butter


FLOUR THE COUCHE! The result of not doing it are...ummm...messy.
If you have a pan that's 12 inches in length, 16 inch baguettes don't work so well regardless of how good of an idea it may seem (i.e. measure twice, cut once!)
find a new lame.
And on a positive note, the more challenging the dough is to work with, the better the resulting bread when you get it right. 

ckujawa's picture

It's been a long, hot summer. Well...not so long, but hot. Too hot to fire up the oven here in the house--and I hate that thought. So as the temperatures are dropping, so are the levels in my flour store since I'm making up for lost time. Add to that the fact that I'm looking for a new gig--as a bread baker and you've got the perfect recipe for....well....baking. As I was researching one of the places I was applying to today, I came across a menu item that I had not heard the name of--the Bialy. I was curious because the photo they had on their site looked tempting.

So I started digging around on the internet and found a few formulas (including Hammelman's on the BBGA website). I also discovered that legend has it that the bilay originally hailed from Bialystock, Poland before it was introduced in NYC about 100 years ago. Hey...I happen to be Polish and am a sucker for trying any food from that country. SO it was game on. Using several recipes for inspiration, I came up with the following, which borrows heavily from Hammelman and several other blog posts:

Onion filling:
1 medium red onion, minced in a food processor (it was too strong to do by hand...)
a bit of salt
1 tsp poppy seeds
olive oil

The Bread:

26 ounces KAF Sir Lancelot Flour  (100%)
16 ounces water
.5 ounces salt
.5 ounces instant yeast

For filling:
Heat oil in a pan, then add onions and salt to taste. Sautee the onions until they darken up a bit and become sweet. Remove from heat and add poppy seeds. Set aside

Confession time...
I didn't get this right out of the gate. The original formula I used had 16 ounces of flour and was...well, anyone remember attempting to eat the salted dough that you can use for making things like Christmas ornaments? was almost like that originally (oops), so I added more salt and more water to arrive at the numbers above. 

Anyway...nothing fancy here. Mix as usual, knead for...well, until it's ready (I had a smooth, sticky dough when done). Set it in a lightly oiled bowl for bulk fermentation for about 11/2 hours. Degas, divide 12 ways (roughly 5 ounces per portion), and make flattened rounds, putting each on a half sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Then, create a depression in the middle of the round (about 1/2 of the round? I eyeballed it) and fill with the filling (I used roughly 1tsp took some experimenting to get a roughly even amount between them all).  Let rise for an additional 20 minutes or so and then pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle with additional poppy seeds and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Note, I had 2 half sheets, one that I'm not too fond of so I swapped racks and rotated them about 1/2 way through the baking process too prevent burning and make sure they cooked evenly. 

Hope you enjoy! I had one as soon as it was cool enough to eat and it was FABULOUS.

ckujawa's picture

Just pulled this from the oven about 20 minutes ago and can't wait to dig into it. We had cooked a turkey this past weekend and wanted to make sandwiches...but of course we needed a bread built just for such an occasion. So...I set to work with the breadcalc spread sheet and this is what I came up with.

Levain @ 50%: 100%/3oz
Water: 50%/2oz
KAF Speacial Flour: 90%/3oz
KAF White Whole Wheat Flour: 5%/1oz

Final dough...
All the starter: 25%?...I didn't weigh it, just threw 'er in
KAF Special flour: 80%/ 12.25oz
KAF White Whole Wheat Flour: 10%/1.5oz
KAF Pumpernickle Flour: 10%/1.5oz
Water 73%/11oz
Salt: about 1tsp (I estimated from here on out...)
Fresh sage, chiffonade 2Tblsp
Dried lavender, crushed 1Tblsp or so (still estimating)
homemade dried cranberries...about a cup

I let the starter do it's thing overnight. Mixed all the ingredients to the salt up, autolyze 10 minutes, knead with a mixer for 5 minutes and let them sit in bulk ferment for 2 hours (slap and fold every 20 minutes or so). Then, I put the dough on a lightly floured board, added the rest of the ingredients to the pile and kneaded until well mixed. Back to bulk ferment for another 1-2 hours--no slap and fold this time. Shape and rise in a banneton for about an hour, preheating the oven to 500 degrees toward the end of the rise (no time here...I just turned it on and walked away). Prior to the preheat I put a sheet pan in the oven upside down so it would get nice and toasty before I placed the load on it. Gently transferred the boule to parchment paper on a free sheet, cut my pattern, then transferred to the sheet in the oven. Added steam every 5 minutes for the first 15, then dropped the temp to 400degrees where the bread did it's thing for about 30 minutes (internal temp of 190). Of course, 1/2 way through the 400degree time I rotated the loaf 180 degrees.

Here it is on the way in...quite tasty too if I do say so myself.

ckujawa's picture

Wanted to post this because I got schooled by this today. The recipe was the basic sourdough from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I added a significant amount of additional floor because what I was using was new to me and the dough didn't feel right. After 4 hours of bulk rise (also and fold every 30 minutes) I tried to shape it into batards and they would not hold. I couldn't get what I thought was the right surface tension, and they rose flat. I almost have up but figured at the worst is have good crutons. Glad I didn't give up though... The oven spring totally saved the day.


ckujawa's picture

Had a few experimental mishaps (couldn't generate enough surface tension to get good oven spring, etc) so I needed a win. Made this pumpernickel using the recipe on KAF's website...can't wait to crack into it (my son's already planning to make rubens tomorrow).


Subscribe to RSS - ckujawa's blog