The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ryan Sandler's blog

  • Pin It
Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

This week I made the dough for Hamelman's baguettes with poolish yet again.  This time, instead of making three 11-13 inch baguettes, scaled at 250g, I made one 750g loaf.  Since the 250g baguettes would be called demi-baguettes, clearly this was a mega-baguette. Clearly.


Okay, fine, I made a batard and scored it like a baguette.  Still it came out pretty nicely.



Crust Crackles, too!



No bursting between the scores! Though on a batard that's kind of cheating.  Anyway.


No crumb shot this time--we had company over for dinner and I wasn't quite willing to beg their patience while I snapped pictures of the bread, the way I regularly do with my wife.  Moderately open crumb, comparable to my recent baguette efforts.  Good flavor, nice crust, though a little chewy.


It will be back to baguettes next week.  Happy baking, everyone.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Really?  Week 24?  Something like that, anyway.


Ahem.


Yesterday I made yet another batch of Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish, continuing my baguette quest.  For those of you who have been following along, two weeks ago I made a batch which I didn't get around to blogging about, and last week I was busy on Saturday and forgot to make a poolish for Sunday.  In past weeks, I've gotten good results in crust, crumb and flavor, and decent to excellent grigne, but my scores keep bursting in the oven.  This week I was influenced by the video BelleAZ posted of Cyril Hitz slashing baguettes.  Hitz says in the video that the scores should overlap by a full third of their length, something I don't think I was doing very well, or at least not very consciously.


Ahem.  To the breads!


Exterior



Crumb



Y'know, I think I could be pretty happy with this. It's not perfect.  There's still some bursting, especially on the baguette on the bottom.  But that one just wasn't scored very well in general.  No bulging in between scores like some past weeks. Flavor and mouthfeel were quite good, as they've been for several weeks.  Crust was a little chewy, although I think this has more to do with the fact that the baguettes came out of the oven at noon, rather than later in the after noon.  Longer sitting seems to correlate to chewier crust.  No biggie.


I'm going to stick with this formula a few more weeks (I'd like to try it as two mini-batards or one large batard, just for yucks), but I think this quest is nearing completion.


Happy baking, everyone.


-Ryan

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I do believe I am closing in on my goal of a tasty, presentable and above all reliable baguette, folks.  At the very least, the results have been reliably tasty of late, which will do for a start!


Anyway, here was last week's bake.  Still a lot of bursting between cuts despite loading the steam pans a couple minutes before loading the loaves.  Great ears though.


Exterior



Crumb (For the loaf on top, I believe)



Moments Later, as BLT


 


 


For this week's bake I switched over to the King Arthur Bread Flour (instead of AP), primarily because my wife did the shopping last week and that's what she picked up.  Worth a try, anyway.  I also threw a cup of water onto the floor of the oven after loading the baguettes, to get some extra steam.  Also, by accident I forgot to take the steam out of the oven, so I had steam for the full 26 minutes of the bake.  Oops!


Exterior:



 Crumb



 


Not bad, eh?  Not as much ear as past weeks--probably at least in part because of the flour.  But only a little bit of bursting.  The baguette on the bottom is just about perfect (this one is pictured in the crumb shot).  Though I'm also quite proud of the one in the middle.  It won't win any beauty contests, but the plastic wrap stuck to the top of that one during the proof, leaving a sticky, slack surface.  The fact that I got any kind of regular looking score on it is a victory I wouldn't have had a few months ago (this victory brought to you by TMB baking ).


Crust was good although a little...leathery, for lack of a better word (this sounds worse than it was).  Probably because of the excess steam during the second half of the bake.  Crumb was fantastic: open, creamy, flavorful.  If I could bake baguettes just like this every time, I'd be happy.  I could bake them like this but with the ears from last week, I'd be in home bakers' heaven.


Happy baking, everyone.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

One of my favorite breads from Hamelman's Bread is Pain Rustique (comes right before "Country Bread" and "Rustic Bread").  The bread is unshaped like a ciabatta, although it only has 69% hydration, and is scored before baking.  When I get it right (as opposed to, say, forgetting the salt and yeast following the autolyse, as I did the first time I tried the formula), it produces a toothsome crust and a flavorful, moderately open crumb.  As a bonus, the time from first mix to pulling the breads out of the oven is under 3 hours (not counting preferment time).


Anyway, the last week I was talking with my mom about the sourdough starter I brought her on our crazy baking day , and the subject of converting pre-fermented, commercially leavened formulas to sourdough came up, as did the Pain Rustique.  This got me thinking--why not try Pain Rustique as a sourdough?  And the more I thought, the more I had to try it.


Pain Rustique as written by Hamelman has 50% of the flour in a poolish, so I simply replaced this with a liquid levain.  I usually scale Hamelman's "Home" quantities by 2/3 since I can only fit 2 loaves on my stone at a time.   Here's what I did:


Levain*



  • 100g ripe starter at 100% hydration. 

  • 250g King Aurther All-Purpose Flour

  • 250g water


*Note: I needed 600g of ripe levain, didn't get around to mixing it until 10:30 the night before, and needed to start the bread be 7 the next day.  For a longer sitting time, I'd do less starter and more flour and water.


Final Dough



  • 300g flour

  • 120g water

  • 600g levain (all) 

  • 12g salt


Steps:



  1. The night before, mix the levain, cover and let sit overnight for 9 hours (but see note).

  2. Mix flour, water and levain by hand until all the flour is hydrated.  Autolyze for 25 minutes.

  3. Add salt, mix in the stand mixer at speed 2 for 2 minutes.

  4. Do 30 stretch and folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula, rotating the bowl with each fold.

  5. Ferment for 150 minutes, giving the dough a stretch and fold on the bench at 50 and 100 minutes.

  6. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide in half to make 2 510g (18oz) pieces, placing any scraps on the rough side of the dough. Then place each piece on a floured couche, smooth side down.

  7. Start pre-heating the oven with a baking stone and any steaming apparatus. Proof the loaves for 40-50 minutes.

  8. Flip the loaves onto a sheet of parchment on the back of a sheet pan.  This can be done by hand, but I've taken to pulling a bit of the couch over the edge of the pan, then flipping the loaf couche and all onto the parchment.  This avoids the problem of finger-shaped indents on top of the loaves, which fill in while baking, but make scoring difficult.

  9. Score longways, load into the oven, and bake for 35 minutes, with steam for the first 15 (I've been using the popular "towel method", placing rolled up towels soaked in hot water in two loaf pans below the baking stone.  After 15 minutes, the pans are removed).

  10. Turn off oven, open door and loaves in for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


 


The results looked very much like my previous attempts at Pain Rustique (and why not?  It's still an unshaped, 69% hydration dough).


Exterior



 Crumb:


 


 


The flavor, however, was surprisingly different.  A nice, mild sour flavor in the crumb, with a stronger sourness in the crust.  Crust was more sourdough-y than the poolish version, and the mouthfeel of the crumb was subtly different, but I don't know how to describe it.  The flavor evolved a little over time--on the first night the tiny amount of whole wheat from my starter (which is fed 25% whole wheat, 75% white) was detectable, but by the next day (and with the second loaf, pulled from the freezer a couple days later) that had mellowed and the sourness had increased.


A very, very tasty bread, all told.  I'd say better than the poolish version, although as I've noted the two are quite different in flavor.  I'll definitely make this again!

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Well, dear readers, despite my recent silence on the subject I have not given up on my baguette quest!  For the last few weeks, however, I'd gotten a little sick of blogging about it.  This week was fairly successful, however, and so I want to share, and request some feedback.


The main change from previous bakes is that a little over a week ago I got a shipment of baking toys, I mean, equipment from TMB/San Francisco Baking Institute.  I got 2 yards of 18-inch linen couche, a lame/blade holder with razor blades, a proofing board (which I've been using as an all-purpose bench board), and a flipping board.  With these, I was certain, many of my problems would be resolved (specifically, excess degassing when shaping and transfering, and ragged scoring).  The first bake with the new equipment (last week) was a little rough, but this week I had things sorted out.


Exterior



Crumb - First Half



Crumb - Second Half



I'm getting there!  The slashing wasn't perfect, but it went much smoother with the new blade, resulting in at least two ears per baguette big enough to lift the loaf with.  Crust was decent if not exceptional, flavor was good.  Profile was nice and round, a nice change from some recent flatter bakes.  Crumb varied within the baguette I sliced (the one in the middle, up top) from good to great.


Here's where I'm looking for feedback: I'm still having problems with the crust bursting between cuts -- is this the result of under-proofing?  Or something else?  I could swear this batch was fully proofed, but I'm not necessarily a good judget of these things.


Happy baking, everyone,


-Ryan

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

My family is not so much in to football, but we are into bread.  This post will give you an idea how much.  You see, my mom taught me the basics of making bread when I was a kid.  However, she never went much beyond a basic white bread pan loaf (although these were always excellent).  Although I got her The Bread Baker's Apprentice for Christmas a couple years back, she never got into the artisan baking thing, with pre-ferments and all, and found the whole process a little intimidating.  But this year, for Christmas, she asked for a baking lesson from me.  Today was the day.


The plan: to bake three types of bread in one day, making two batches of each so that I could make one and demonstrate, and then she could make one.  Limitted to her standard (but quite good, as I discovered) home oven, this required staggering the batches over the course of the day.


On the roster: Italian Bread (from BBA), Potato Rosemary Bread (also from BBA), and French-style rustic bread (Pain Rustique from Hamelman's Bread). All solid players that I can do in my sleep at home, and felt like ought to go fairly smoothly, while showcasing different flavors, shaping and slashing styles.


Let the games begin!


We showed up at my parents' place at 9am, bringing with us a pre-game miche:


Another Mighty Miche, ready for toasting



At 9:30 my dad took the baby, my wife went out shopping with her mom and sister, and my mom and I got to work.  First up was mixing Italian Bread--not much teaching there, although I demonstrated the power of the 5-minute rest for helping along gluten development


Italian Bread #1, in between the remaining biga and the poolish



From there, the day proceeded in an almost-orderly fashion, alternating mixing, stretch-and-folding, dividing, and shaping with one bread and then another.  Mostly things proceeded smoothly, although there was a moment of panic when we realized that I'd dumped out, pre-shaped and final shaped Potato-Rosemary Bread #2 instead of #1, while #1 sat happily bulk fermenting for an extra half an hour.  Some improvisation was required (we pretended batch #2 had never been shaped, quickly shaped batch #1 without a pre-shape and pretended it had already been proofing for 10 minutes.  It worked.)


Mom kneading Potato Rosemary Dough



Italian Breads Proofing - "Mine" are on the left. (All on my new TMB/SFBI couche!)


 


Potato Rosemary Breads in the Oven


 


Rustic Breads in Bulk Fermentation - "Mine" is on top (Also my lovely SFBI/TMB proofing board)



Italian Breads, Finished. Mine on the left (clearly under proofed!)


 


Rosemary Potato Breads (I don't even know whose are mine!)



Rustic Breads  (Mine on the Right)



The hardest part of the whole business (besides being up on our feet all day baking), was teaching the shaping techniques.  I had the principles clear in my head (surface tension, surface tension, surface tension), but conveying the actual physical motions (which are just plain tricky anyhow) was quite difficult.  Practice was useful -- except on the Italian bread, I had my mom shape and slash one of "my" breads after I demonstrated the technique so she'd have an extra chance to get the hang of it.  What proved invaluable, however, was employing a dish towel a la Mark of Back Home Bakery to demonstrate.  I already thought that video was great when it was posted, but now I'm really grateful to Mark for making posting it! I only wish I'd thought to do that before we'd already shaped the Italian breads, rather than after.


The other main challenge was the oven--it was just too good!  My parent's gas oven held it's heat remarkably well, which meant that turning the temperature up before was actually unnecessary, and indeed counter-productive since amidst the chaos I forgot to turn it down after loading the breads.


The fruits of our labors



The bakers and their breads


 


After we were done baking, we brought three choice loaves over to my in-laws for dinner (it was my father-in-law's birthday, by coincidence), and had a lovely meal.


Clockwise from left, Rustic Bread, Italian Bread, and Potato Rosemary Bread


 


 


It was a fun, busy, bread-ful day.  I'd do some things differently if I were to do this again (like use a bigger oven and do three batches instead of six!), but my mom and I had a great time.


Happy baking, everyone,


-Ryan

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

With all this talk on the forum about miche lately, I've been itching to give it a try.  So when the excellent dmsnyder posted the formula for the miche he made in the SFBI Artisan II workshop, I decided that the time was now and the bread should be here!


I followed the very nicely written formula at the link, using a small amount of whole wheat flour in the Levain and toasted wheat germ in the final build, as I've no good source for high-extraction whole wheat flour.  I made the levain with 25% whole wheat flour, 75% KAF AP (and my starter had been fed the same mix), to get approximately 3.33% whole wheat in the final dough (it actually ends up being a bit more, but I didn't worry about it).


I must say, this is an excellent formula, and an excellent bread.  Incredible oven spring.  Wonderful alliterative potential too: My massive mighty miche makes mastication memorable.


Anyway, pictures:


From the top


 

Another external view

 

Miriam meets miche

 

Not a bad crumb either.

 

We sliced it 7 hours after it came out of the oven.  Lovely flavor and texture, lots of character.  Looking forward to snacking on the remaining three quarters of a loaf  I'd definitely make it again, although unlike dmsnyder, the notion of upgrading to a 2kg loaf sounds intimidating!  If nothing else, there's no way that would fit in my poor little banetons.  I guess there's always the "napkin in a bowl" trick, eh?

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I never got around to posting last week, but I did get around to making yet another batch of poolish baguettes.  The only real change was to use King Arthur All-Purpose flour in the final dough (making up 2/3 of the total flour with the Bread Flour in the poolish).  Also, thinking that my lame was getting dull, I tried scoring with the other side of the blade (switching from "Method 1" to "Method 2" as dmsnyder terms them).  I wasn't enturely impressed with the results.


Results: Exterior


 

Results: Crumb

 

The results were okay--crumb had a nice texture, flavor wasn't bad, crust was well carmelized but kinda chewy.  Bottoms burnt, scores are a mess.  The previous two weeks the results had been so much better.  My fault or the flour?  Probably mine, but I'd had such luck before...

Partly discouraged, partly looking for variety, partly because I've been craving a sourdough baguette for a couple months now, this week (#15 if you're keeping track), I swapped out the poolish for 300g of 100% hydration starter (still used commercial yeast in the final dough though).  The dough wasn't nearly as easy to handle as the standard poolish dough--it was looser, stickier, and gave me grief shaping (somehow I managed to have one end sticking while the other end was over floured and sliding instead of rolling).  I did take steps to prevent burnt bottoms, raising my stone one level in the oven--this seemed to do the trick.

Results: Exterior

 

Results: Crumb

 

I wouldn't call this a success, per se--the crust and crumb are pretty ugly, no?--but the flavor was very nice, and the crust had a nice texture to it -- chewier than I'd want for a normal poolish baguette, but quite good for a sourdough.

Now here's the question:  I really ought to give the King Arthur AP flour another chance in a normal poolish baguette.  But I think the sourdough version has a lot of potential--if I could get more used to handling this dough, I think I could get something pretty nice here.  Which do I pursue?

(In all likelihood, this will be determined by whether or not I remember to take out and refresh my starter on Wednesday or Thursday next week, mind you.)

Happy baking, everyone.   I got some King Arthur durum flour as a Christmas present and tomorrow I'm baking Pugliese :)

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I'm still at it.  We were at my parents' place on Saturday (Christmas day), and while I did end up baking a batch of Italian bread for Christmas dinner, there were no baguettes.  But we got home Saturday night, and I actually felt in the mood for baguettes.  I made up the poolish, increasing the yeast slightly from last week so it would ripen before late afternoon, and sunday I made yet another batch of the Hamelman Baguettes with Poolish.


While mixing, I realized that last week, and at least one previous week, I'd been adding too much yeast to the final dough--Hamelman says to use .13 oz of instant yeast for a full batch, and last week I definitely used .13 oz in my half batch.  Heaven knows what that's been doing to my baking.  Last week I think it turned out okay (well, better than okay) in part because the poolish was so sluggish.  Anyway, this week I used the correct 0.067 oz yeast (yay for having a scale accurate to the 0.001 oz eh?).


Besides the yeast adjustments, no changes from last week.  I used Cyril Hitz's rolling method for shaping again, but was better at it.


Exterior


 

Crumb

 

Needless to say, I'm very pleased with these baguettes.  Great caramelization of the crust, decent ears and placement of the scores.  Crust was pleasantly crisp, although not as perfect as last week.  Nice open crumb, with a nice nutty flavor.  Only downsides: a bit flat (and with tight crumb) in between scores, and the bottoms got over-dark (and tasted a little burnt).

I think perhaps I under-proofed as well--there's a little bursting in between the scores on one baguette, and I seem to recall having the bread "bulge" at the scores is another indication of under-proofing. I still have yet to master the "poke" test, it seems.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

If you've been following this series of posts, you might be wondering, "what happened to week 11?" Well, last Saturday my mother in law invited us over for a Chrismas cookie baking day.  I was distressed at the notion of missing my regular baguette bake, and foolishly decided to mix the dough at home, then bring the dough with me and bake it at my in-laws.  Long story short, it did not go well.  Moving on.


This week brought three changes to my baguette routine.  First and most importantly, I switched by to KAF Bread Flour from the Stone-Buhr flour I had been using.  Partly this was because I ran out of Stone-Buhr, and my local stores have stopped stocking it.  But I think the flour is to blame for the sub-par results I've been getting.  Last week I was looking through my past blog posts, and was struck by the stark difference between, say Week 4, or Week 6, and more recent bakes.  Ever since I started using the Stone-Buhr flour (Week 8, if you're keeping track), my crumb has been underwhelming, flavor has oven been lacking, and I've struggled to get the baguettes to color sufficiently, even as the bottoms reliably burnt.  Not that I was hitting all those points every time with the KA flour, but I was getting much closer.


I also tried two suggestions from comments from last week:  I used Ciril Hitz's rolling technique for final shaping (thanks to Daisy_A for the pointer), and tried leaving my steam pans in for 13 minutes instead of 10 (thanks to realcasual for the suggestion).


Results: Exterior


 

Results: Crumb

 

I was really quite pleased with these baguettes.  I didn't quite get the hang of Hitz's rolling method, although I might with more practice.  As a result, the baguettes were a little lacking surface tension, baking up somewhat flat and resisting slashing.  Despite that, the crumb was decently open, and the flavor was good.  The crust was simply fantastic.  Crisp, thin, flavorful just enough chew to hold together--perfect.

Next week (well, next time--between Christmas and New Years I may end up taking a couple weeks off of Saturday baguettes), I'm going to try the Hamelman "over the thumb" shaping method again with the King Arthur Bread Flour side-by-side with the Hitz method, see which I like better.

Happy baking everyone,

-Ryan

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Ryan Sandler's blog