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Ryan Sandler

One of my favorite sourdough variations is inspired by a combination of the classic blue cheese and walnut sourdough (which I've never made because I don't like blue cheese) and a twisted sourdough with chunks of dark chocolate that I got from a bakery in Chelsea Market in Manhatten on a family vacation some years back. The combination: sourdough with dark chocolate and walnuts.

It's best as a breakfast bread: a little too sweet for dinner, but too bread-y for dessert. The dark chocolate is overpowering when melted, so the trick is to bake it the night before you want to eat it, and let it cool overnight so the chocolate hardens. The taste is delectable: the sour of the bread and the chewiness of the crust combines with the crunchy nuts, and the bitter-sour flavors of the dark chocolate, all infused with the walnut oil.

I've made it with several different sourdough formulas, but last night I baked up a batch based on David Snyder's famous San Joaquin Sourdough, to good effect.

Formula: (All credit goes to dmsnyder's post here)

  • 450g King Arthur AP flour (90%)
  • 25g WW Flour (5%)
  • 25g Whole Rye Flour (5%)
  • 150g Active Starter at 100% hydration (30%)
  • 360g Water (72%)
  • 10g Salt (2%)
  • 125g Coursely chopped walnuts (or broken by hand) (25%)
  • 100g Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips (20%) (ideal for their shape, and for being excellent chocolate a a bargain price)
  1. Mix flours, water and starter (David likes to mix the water and starter first; I don't know if it matters).  Autolyze 20-60 minutes.
  2. Add salt, walnuts and chocolate, then do 30 stretch-and-folds in the bowl.
  3. Cover tightly and ferment 3 hours at room temperature.  Repeat the stretch-and-folds in the bowl at 30, 60 and 90 minutes, then a french-fold on the board at 135 and 180 minutes.
  4. Place in refrigerator for 18-21 hours.  
  5. Remove dough from refrigerator, divide in half and pre-shape as rounds.  Allow to rest 1 hour.
  6. Shape as batards or boules, and place in a couche or banneton, as appropriate.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees with baking stone.  
  7. Proof loaves 45 minutes, then transfer to parchment on a sheet pan/peel, score and load in oven.  Steam using your favorite method, and lower temperature to 460.  
  8. Bake 30 minutes, turning loaves and removing any steaming apparatus after 15.  Turn off oven and crack the door for 5 minutes, then remove loaves to a cooling rack.  Cool at least 8 hours before eating.
 
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Ryan Sandler

A collection of my recent bakes:

Poolish Baguettes

Cut for BLT's

Ciabatta (Craig Ponsford formula)

Somewhat disappointing crumb.  Another batch made the following week looked similar

Miche, shaped as a large batard.

With baby for (largely uninformative) scale

Crumb

More Ponsford Ciabatta, made without the final letter fold "shaping"

Crumb, still disappointing

Happy baking, everyone,

-Ryan 

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Ryan Sandler

Despite failing to post about it, I'm still at my quest for a perfect, hole-y ciabatta.  The last two weeks were interesting, to say the least.  

If you recall, two weeks ago I baked Craig Ponsford's ciabatta (a la Maggie Glezer), with results that were just about perfect.  Last week I tried to replicate the experience.  First, the formula and proceedure:

Biga:

  • 300g King Arthur AP flour (the original calls for 200g Bread Flour and 100g AP) - 91%
  • 15g Whole Rye Flour - 4.5%
  • 15g Whole Wheat Flour - 4.5%
  • 185g Water - 56%
  • 0.016g Instant Yeast - 0.005%* 

*(originals calls for mixing 1/2 tsp yeast with 1 cup water, then measuring 1/2 tsp yeast-water into the biga. I have a scale with 0.01g graduations, and just measured 0.02g. )

Final Dough

  • 325g King Arthur AP flour
  • 342g Water
  • 12g Salt
  • 1.55g Instant yeast (1/2 tsp)
  • Biga (All)
  1. Mix biga ingredients together until smooth.  Biga will be quite stiff.  
  2. Allow to ferment for 24 hours, or until tripled (Two weeks ago I didn't keep track, last week I only waited for a little more than double, possible a mistake).
  3. Combine all final dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix with the hook for 5 minutes.  Dough will be very gloopy.
  4. I gave it 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Not sure if this had any effect--I'll probably skip in in the future.
  5. Ferment 3 hours.  At 20, 40, 60 and 80 minutes, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface to stretch and fold.
  6. Divide the dough in half, making two oblong shapes.  Fold each oblong in thirds, letter style (this will produce something vaguely square).  Gently stretch each dough piece into an oblong, and place on a well floured couche (I omitted the stretch last week--I think this was a mistake), seam side down.  Yes, down.  Cover with plastic, but try to keep the plastic off the surface of the dough.
  7. Proof 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 500 degrees (or with my POS oven, 535)
  8. With wet fingers, make small dimples all over the exposed surface of the dough.
  9. Flip the loaves onto parchment on a sheet pan or peel.  Slide the loaves into the oven, turn temperature down to 450 and bake for 35 minutes, using your favorite steaming method for the first 15.
  10. Crack the oven door, turn off the oven, and wait 5-10 minutes more before removing the loaves to a cooling rack.
This formula is fun to make.  This is the dough after mixing:

First Fold, Before and After

Second Fold, Before and After

Third Fold, Before and After

Last Fold, Before and After

Ready to divide and proof:

Dimpling

Exterior:

Crumb:

This bake was...puzzling.  As you can see, these loaves were awfully tall for ciabatta.  The crumb was tighter than the previous week, more akin to a batard.  The flavor profile was a bit difference as well--the sour and whole-grain notes were stronger, while the poolease-y flavor (what I think of as pain a l'ancienne flavor) was more muted.  Indeed, if I'd stuck a couple of sourdough batards into my oven, and pulled these out, I'd have been neither surprised nor displeased in the least.  Since I in fact loaded a pair of conventionally leavened ciabatta...well, color me puzzled.  

Cut ahead to today.  I had intended to take another stab at the Ponsford recipe, but a number of circumstances prevented me from putting together a biga in time.  That 24 hour fermentation time is tricky to work around.  I did have time for a poolish, so instead I took another stab at SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta, with some modifications inspired by the Ponsford Ciabatta.  It went like this:

Poolish:

  • 190g KAF AP flour
  • 190 Water
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)

Final Dough

  • 310g Flour
  • 190g Water
  • 15g Olive Oil
  • 10g Salt
  • 0.36g Instant Yeast (1/8tsp)
  1. Mix poolish, ferment 12 hours.
  2. Whisk poolish with 150g water and oil.
  3. Add 30g flour and whisk vigorously until slightly frothy.
  4. Add remaining flour and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Autolyze 30 minutes
  5. Sprinkle salt, yeast and remaining 40g water over dough.  Mix by hand until smooth (I started with the wooden spoon until the water was incorporated, then did about 60 stretch-and-folds with a spatula).
  6. Proceed as in the Ponsford recipe from step 5, except omit the 3rd fold, and the letter-fold after dividing.

The results:

Curiouser and curiouser!  Excellent crumb this time, much better than my two previous tries.  The dough seemed much stronger than on my previous two attempts, and I think the crumb is a result of that.   The dimpling technique may be a factor as well, hard to say.  Also rather tall for ciabatta, although not as ridiculous as last week.  Crust was nicely crispy.  Flavor was clean, sweet and creamy.  I think I liked the Ponsford ciabatta's flavor more, but it would be somewhat deceptive to say that one was "better" than the other, because they're really very different.  

Proposition: An open crumbed ciabatta requires a strong dough.  Getting a wet dough like ciabatta to be strong is the trick, but multiple stretch-and-folds will do it.  

Happy baking, everyone.

-Ryan

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Ryan Sandler

Last sunday we went over to my mom's for a mother's day brunch with the family.  My mom asked me to "just take a baguette out of the freezer".  You know, since baking a batch of bread in time to leave for a 11am brunch (we live about an hour away) would be tricky.  The problem?  No baguettes in the freezer--we've run through them all since I finished up my baguette quest.  

A challenge!  This presented a great opportunity to experiment with cold retardation with my standard baguette recipe, Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish, as well as test just how well they keep at room temperature.  Here's what I did:

I mixed a batch of baguette dough around 2 in the afternoon.  I then shapped 3 small baguettes a little after 5pm, and set to proofing on a couche.  However, for one of the 3 I put a small sheet of parchment underneath.  After 40 minutes of proofing, I slid the baguette on parchment off of the couche to finish proofing, while the couche itself with the other 2 baguettes was slid onto a sheet pan and stuck in the refrigerator.  The lone baguette was baked when fully proofed, about 75 minutes total.  Once it was cool, the baguette was placed in a plastic bag that was not fully sealed, and then wrapped in a paper market bag. 

Later, at 10:30, I pulled the couche out of the fridge, flipped one of the baguettes onto parchment on a peel, and baked it immediately, while the other went back into the fridge.  Baguette #2 sat on the cooling rack all night, unwrapped (mainly because it was past 11 by then!)

The next morning, the last baguette was baked at 9:30am and taken straight from the oven into a paper bag as we hurried out the door at little after 10.

The results:

From Left to Right: Not retarded, Retarded 4 hours, Retarded 15 hours. 

 

The baguette retarded overnight had lots of bubble in the crust, which made it very crisp and crackly.  All three had similar (good) flavor, and seemed plenty moist inside.  The baguette not retarded was crisped in the oven before cutting, but I presume it was crisp when fresh.  The baguette retarded for 4 hours was rather chewy when we got to it (we took that one home and my wife and I ate it for dinner), about 20 hours after baking.  

Crumb shots:

Retarded overnight

Not Retarded

 

Retarded 4 hours

Longer retarding seemed to be correlated with a lower profile, with the non-retarded baguette being the most round (although the baguettes were sliced on the bias,  and were less flat than the slices indicate).  I don't think this was underproofing, as the grigne looks pretty clean on those baguettes.  The retarded baguettes were much easier to score than the one that had not been retarded. 

Conclusion: Retarding baguettes gives a distinctive bubbly crust (for better or for worse), and makes them easier to score, but results in a lower profile.   Flavor is about the same either way.  As long as the crust is re-crisped, a baguette can sit un-cut at room temperature overnight and be nearly as good as first baked, and as good or better than frozen and thawed. Interesting.

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Ryan Sandler

Well, I quite failed to get around to blogging last weeks' ciabatta attempt, and now here it's Saturday and I have another bake to describe.  

Last week I made another stab at SteveB's double hydration ciabatta.  If you recall in week 1, I got very nice flavor and crust, but an unimpressive crumb.  I also found the process, which involves almost 30 minutes of mixing, rather cumbersome.  The first time I modified Steve's process to add a French fold halfway through the rise, and I figured this time I either needed to modify the recipe more, or stick strictly to Steve's directions.  I went for the latter, cutting down the mixing time, and adding 2 stretch-and-folds to the rise.  The results, however, were quite similar to week 1:

 

 

Crumb was perhaps a little better, flavor a little worse.  So much for modifications.

Anyway, this week I took a shot at Craig Ponsford's ciabatta, as interpreted by Maggie Glezer, as interpreted by these two blogs (the first has better directions, the latter had weight measurements).  This formula involves a very stiff biga with a little bit of whole grain and just the teensiest bit of yeast, which is fermented for a full 24 hours (28 in my case).  Hydration is just north of 80%, and it takes 4 stretch and folds to make it behave.  

The results, however, were phenomenal

And here's the kicker:

 

You may notice the loaf on the right is a little funky looking--it stuck to the couch a bit, and I failed to get it all on the parchment when flipping it over, and so I had to manhandle it a bit to clear the couche and slip a scrap of parchment underneath.  

As you can see, nicely caramelized crust (nice and crispy too), crumb wonderfully open (nicely chewy too), and the flavor...oh the flavor.  This was one of the best tasting breads I have made, period.  The combination of a big dose of poolease-y nuttiness, a tinge of sour, and notes of whole grain in the background was just heavenly.  

I think this formula is a keeper.  Beyond getting fabulous results on this occasion, I enjoyed making it.  I like doing stretch-and-folds, feeling the dough and watching it mature and come together.  Even if it gets the same results, I'd take a recipe with stretch-and-folds over one with none and a long mixer time any day.  Just a matter of personal taste there.

There's still some work to do--I still need to work out my flipping technique, and I still have some kinks to work out in the formula itself, in order to get the exterior shape more even (enough kinks that I'm going to refrain from posting my take on the formula just yet).  But this is a positive step for sure!

Happy baking, everyone,

-Ryan 

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Ryan Sandler

Time to begin another question for bread perfection improvement! By popular request/persuasion, I've decided to attempt a ciabatta quest, and leave off on perfecting crusty sourdough dinner rolls for another day.


For the next however-many-it-takes weeks, I will bake a batch of ciabatta dough, and post my results to this baker-blog. My goal: to reliably produce a ciabatta with a thin, crisp crust, open, moist crumb, delectable wheaty flavor, and which is tall enough to slice longitudinally for sandwiches.


A modest goal, I hope.  We'll see how it goes!


I've not yet found a ciabatta formula that delivers the results I'm looking for, so for the first few weeks I'm going to experiment with different formulas.  If one produces exceptional results, I'll stick with it.  If they all seem about the same in my clumsy hands, I'll pick the one that's easiest and stick with that one.  Either way, eventually I will settle down to baking one formula and tweaking/practicing it until I meet my goal.


Let the adventure begin!  For week one, I tried SteveB's Double Hydration Ciabatta.  Here's the formula, partly for my own future reference as I found Steve's writeup a little hard to read (call me old-fashioned, but I'm not crazy about recipes written in present perfect tense).  I had a little trouble with his mixing instructions, as he refers to mixing speeds 1, 2 and 3, whereas my Kitchenaid has speeds "Stir" 2, 4, 6 etc.  In the formula below I've reprinted his instructions, with the speed I actually used [in brackets].


Formula


Total:



  • 500g King Arthur AP Flour (100%)

  • 380g water (76%)

  • 15g Olive Oil (3%)

  • 10g Salt (2%)

  • .7g instant yeast (1/4 teaspoon,  .14%)


Poolish



  • 190g Flour

  • 190g Water

  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast


Final Dough



  • 310g Flour, divided

  • 190g water, divided

  • 15g Olive Oil

  • 1/8 tsp inseant yeast

  • 10g salt


Procedure



  1. The night before, mix poolish ingredients, cover and let sit for 12 hours

  2. On baking day, combine poolish, 150g water and olive oil into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix on low speed using the whisk attachment until smooth.  

  3. Add 30g flour and increase speed to speed 3 [4 on my Kitchenaid] for two minutes.

  4. Stop mixer, add remaining flour and yeast.  Switch to the dough hook and mix 2 minutes more, just until the flour is hydrated.

  5. Cover bowl with plastic and autolyse for 30 minutes.

  6. Add salt, turn mixer to speed 3 [2] and mix 10 minutes.

  7. With mixer still running, gradually add the remaining 40g water, dribbling in a few drops at a time and allowing each addition to be incorporated before adding more.  Mix a total of 10 more minutes.

  8. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, ferment for 3 hours

  9. [I poured the dough out for a french fold at 1-1/2 hours, which Steve does not call for]

  10. Empty the dough onto a well floured work surface, divide in half, and place on a well-floured couche.

  11. Proof 1 hour [I proofed for 1-1/2, having forgotten to pre-heat the oven!]

  12. An hour before baking, preheat the oven to 500 degrees

  13. Gently flip the dough from the couche onto a sheet pan or peel lined with parchment. 

  14. Transfer loaves to a stone in the oven.  Bake 35 minutes total, with steam for the first 15 minutes.

  15. Turn off oven, open oven door and leave the loaves in for 6 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


And the results:


Exterior



Crumb


 


Crust was a bit thick, but was crisp and had good flavor.  Crumb was moist and flavorful but barely open at all, despite a decent rise.


I'm not sure what to make of the formula. There are a number of possible explanations for the poor crumb here, most of which can't be blamed on the formula: Poor mixing (mixer not turned up high enough), not enough stretch and folds, degassing from the added stretch and fold, clumsy handling, etc.  Certainly the flavor was good, and I definitely liked using a well floured couche for proofing rather than a bread board as some other formulas suggest (less spreading, easier flipping).  But the mixing proceedure is awfully fiddly, and 20 minutes of high-speed mixing after an autolyze seems excessive, even if it gets the job done.


Food for thought (and for dinner!).


Happy baking everyone,


-Ryan

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Ryan Sandler

I must be a glutton for punishment.  After six months of trying to improve my baguette making skills, I'm already raring to head off on a new "quest" after just one weekend of "free" baking.  However, I can't decide between two possible quests, and I'm looking for some advice.  Also, much like with Saturday Baguettes, I'll be posting my results regularly as a commitment mechanism, so if there are folks out there who would be more interested in reading about one or the other, that's important to me too.


Here's my options:


Quest #1: Ciabatta:


I've made a number of ciabattas over the years, with fair to middling success, but I've never really gotten it right.  By "right" I mean a very open crumb, nutty flavor, and thin, crisp crust.   This is a typical ciabatta of mine:



Crumb decently open but not as much as you'd expect in a ciabatta, crust a little thick and chewy, flavor pretty good, but not always great.  This is my typical ciabatta experience, although often the crumb is tighter than pictured here.  The results are pleasant, but short of what a ciabatta can be.


 The first step in this quest would be settling on a particular ciabatta formula to work with -- I've tried Peter Reinhart's formulas from both The Bread Baker's apprentice and from Artisan Breads Everyday, Hamelman's formulas for Ciabatta with Poolish and Ciabatta with Olive Oil and Wheat Germ, and the "quick" Cocodrillo ciabatta that's been floating around TFL.  None have reliably yielded good results.


The next big milestone will be working out the fine art of transfering ciabatta to the oven.  I can't tell you how many times I've had promising looking loaves foiled by my ham-handed flip-and-carry.


 


Quest #2: Sourdough dinner rolls


This would be a quest of a very different flavor than the previous one (literally and figuratively). I'm a big fan of crusty sourdough dinner rolls, but I've never had much luck making them.  Adapting a standard sourdough recipe doesn't work well--the chewy crust and crumb that frequently go with a sourdough boule make for hockey pucks in the dinner roll context.


I'm looking for a roll with a thin, crisp crust, moderately chewy crumb, and a nice sourdough tang.  This quest is more of a recipe development quest than a technique mastery quest.


I have a prototype recipe that I've made a couple times, with somewhat mixed results.  It's been hard to get both good flavor and thin crust in the same roll.  On the other hand, if the last batch I made is replicable, this could be a very short quest:



 


Thoughts?  Suggestions?  Which of these would you most like to read about sporadically over the next few months?


Happy baking, everyone,


-Ryan

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Ryan Sandler


 


 Having recently finished a six month long baguette quest, I wanted to reflect a bit on what I've learned.  The pictures above tell the story--from my initial hamhanded attempts, through my disasterous return to using Stone-Buhr flour, through the last few weeks when everything started to come together.  Here's a few thoughts about home baguette making--perhaps they can guide anyone else foolish enough to tilt at that most challenging of home baking windmills:



  • Practice Matters: My baguette shaping and scoring skills improved mostly with time--over six months I made 81 demi-baguettes (27 batches of 3), with something like 270 slashes, making up more than 44 pounds of dough.  Mind you, this is less dough and slashes than our good TFL member Larry does in a day at his bakery job (though maybe a few more discrete baguettes, since they're smaller).  

  • Consistency Matters: All those things that you read in baking books and on this forum about getting "the feel" of the dough?  It really takes sticking with one dough for a while to get it.  Knowing that the dough remains the same takes the guesswork out of the inevitable variations in dough consistency.  I think I learned more about "feel" in the last 6 months than I did in the 2 years previous.  By the last few weeks, when the dough was unusually slack, or tight, I knew something was amiss and needed to be compensated for.  

  • Flour Matters: This one surprised me.  Certain flours seem to do better for different fermentation methods.  My old standby, Stone Buhr bread flour, performs beautifully with delayed fermentation formulas, like pain a l'ancienne.  Really, if you can find some, try it for a pain a l'ancienne or similar recipe; the flavor is amazing.  But my old standby performed terribly in a poolish.  Who knew?

  • Equipment Matters: While home bakers are limitted in their choices for the most important piece of equipment--the oven--there are a lot of small bits of equipment which are cheap and quite helpful.  I found the lame, flipping board, and linen couche that I ordered from SFBI/TMB to be invaluable in transfering and scoring my baguettes without degassing them too much.  The total cost was something like $40 for those three.

  • Everything Matters: This sounds more glib than it is.  When it comes to baguettes, all the little pieces have to fall into place.  I'd read about this before, but making them every week really brought this home.  Part of it is that the shape itself is hard to do, part of it is that the traditional scoring is even harder, but part of it is just that baguettes are less forgiving.  A slightly dense batard with slightly chewy crumb is still quite tasty, wheras a baguette, with the higher crust-to-crumb ratio, will be downright unpleasant.  Getting a baguette to have crisp crust and an open crumb requires a good bake with steam, and proper scores.  But if you don't shape it with a tight enough gluten sheath, it won't rise well, and will impossible to score.  And if you don't pre-shape properly, shaping is difficult.  And preshaping correctly requires the dough have been mixed and folded sufficiently. And...you get the idea.  All of this is true of other shapes, of course, but the finicky baguette magnifies all flaws.


That's all I've got.  Finally, for anyone who's interested, a review of my final baguette method:


Poolish



  • 150 g. bread flour

  • 150 g. water

  • .18 g. yeast

    Final Dough



  • 300 g. bread flour

  • 150 g. water

  • 1.9 g yeast

  • 9 g. salt


 


Process:



  1. Mix Poolish night before, let sit ~12 hours 

  2. Mix all ingredients with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes

  3. Knead on counter ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 

  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula (I actually do this on the bench with my hand, so I can oil the bowl). 

  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold

  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into ~250 g. pieces, pre-shape oblong (I do a modified version of Hamelman's pre-shaping technique for boules--fold in half, then tuck the dough into itself with the fingers. For an oblong, on the last tuck I twist my wrists inward such that it turns into a stubby torpedo shape) 

  7. Rest 10-20 minutes

  8. Shape as baguettes--I settled on the "fold over the thumb and press" technique, twice in one direction and then once in the other, sealing the last against the work surface. 

  9. Place on couche, cover with the folds

  10. Proof 1 hour, then start checking for full proof

  11. Pre-heat oven and stone to 525 degrees  (note, my oven runs at least 25 degrees colder than it says) at least 45 minutes before baking. Place two metal loaf pans in the oven on a rack below the stone.

  12. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan.  

  13. Pull the loaf pans out of the oven. Soak two towels in a bowl of very hot water (my tap water gets plenty hot), transfer to the loaf pans and put them back in the oven.

  14. Score the baguettes.  Using oven mitts, slide parchment onto stone, throw 1 cup hot water onto the oven floor lower temp to 485.  

  15. Bake 26 minutes, removing the steam pans and turning the baguettes around after 13.

  16. Turn off the oven, crack the oven door and wait 8 minutes before removing the baguettes.


 Happy baking everyone


-Ryan

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Ryan Sandler

Or so it would appear.  Just look at these innocent, unbaked rolls.  See how happy they are:



And then see them after being baked:



Ahh! Demon rolls!


Just wanted to share. :)

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Ryan Sandler

Victory is mine!  If you haven't been following my occasional series of posts, six months ago I set out to improve my baguette skills by making a batch Hamelman's "Baguettes with Poolish" every Saturday and blogging about it here.  I haven't been entirely rigorous about the blogging, but I've kept up the baking, skipping only one weekend in all that time.  Here's what I said I wanted to achieve in week 1:


My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error. I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know. But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.


I submit to you that I have achieved this objective.


Exhibit A: Last week's bake (week 26 if you're counting)




What is notable about this batch is not how well they turned out, per se (though they aren't bad, eh?), but the fact that I did several things wrong, and they still came out quite well.  The plastic wrap stuck to the baguette in the middle, making it hard to score, I forgot to turn the oven down from the pre-heat temperature for the first 6 minutes of the bake, and I purposely omitted the "leave in the oven with the door cracked" step because I needed the oven.  And still they were good.  Crust was a bit chewy, but it was thin, the crumb was nice and the flavor was great.


Exhibit B: Todays bake


Exterior


 


Crumb:



 The scores didn't come out quite perfectly--the baguettes took longer than usual to proof, and may have stil been a little under-proofed.  But everything else was spot on.  Crust was thin and crisp, crumb open and creamy, flavor sweet and nutty.  If every baguette I ever make again is like this, I'll be happy.


More to the point, if every baguette I make again is a random draw from the last 4-5 weeks of baguettes, I'll be more than happy.  There is still room for improvement, but at this point I think the benefit of making my baguettes a little bit better is less than the benefit of making a wider variety of breads (or even a wider variety of baguette recipes), and much less than the benefit starting a new quest (I have a couple in mind, but that's for another post).


Thanks to everyone who has followed along with my occasionally long-winded adventure, and thanks especially to those (Larry in particular) who helped point me in the right direction early in the process.  It has been a wild ride the last 6 months (not least due to the birth of my daughter in week 6).  Sometime soon I'll write up a post specifically reflecting on the lessons I've learned from Saturday Baguettes.


Happy baking, everyone,


-Ryan


 

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