The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

sergio83's blog

sergio83's picture

since we're having a lovely cold winter here in florida in spite of la ninia i've started baking again. i've just got done with my second baguette and the thirds in the fridge-- the first one stuck to the pan i was using to shift it into the oven but it was still tasty. this last one stuck to the couche because i'm trying to be a bit more conservative with adding flour since i think my loaves have been too dusty. i may not be able to post pics since my cameras giving me grief, but when i took this one out, well, after i took it out it was crackling so loudly i could hear it at the other end of the kitchen! ... hmmm, let's see what that meant...


apparently not very much, at least at the ends... hmmm, needs salt...

sergio83's picture

Hi All,

I tried again with the baguettes.  This time I used 1.25 cups of flour and .5 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast (i bought the glass jar in spite of some of ya'll's advice so i'll be using it for a while.) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (i should've used more salt)...

So, does it count as an autolyzing if I've already added the yeast and the salt? Since i've got the active dry stuff i have to soak it first and since i'm using so little water i don't have enough to divide it.

Anyway, the dough was a lot firmer than I'm used to and I'm thinking I might try an extra .25 cup of water to see what happens.  I transferred the shaped baguette onto a hot cookie sheet and that seems to have helped with oven spring.  This time the shaping was a lot better-- I took occidental's advice and dusted the flour with a sifter and that combined with how the dough was a lot more dry than what I've been using so I managed to shape a pretty pretty loaf.

My knife obviously isn't cutting it ;) when it comes to scoring.  I went to the local wal-mart to look for straight razors (is that what they're called... oops, double edged razors) well, the saleslady looked at me like i was crazy.  I also went to the hardware store to find drop canvas-- more on that in a bit-- and some quarry stones.  All the tiles they had were glazed.  There's this place down the road that has a lot of rocks and stuff so maybe they'll have some.

The bread came out a bit darker than I like and i'm not too crazy about the taste of it.  Also it's missing some salt... actually, i've got some more dough in the fridge, let me go add salt to that now...

I'll let you all know what happens when you add salt 10 hours into a cold fermentation/rising.

Here's the crumb

The bread came out sort of dry but that may have been because i tried baking at 500 for the first 10 minutes-- i won't try that again...

I don't reckon I'll count this as a victory-- except for the shaping; it's the best shaping i've been able to manage so far...

I think i put too much salt in the dough for next time... it'll be a half teaspoon for ~1.25 cups of flour.

anyway, regarding couches-- i went to the hardware store and got canvas drop cloth.  It says it's heavy-duty tight cotton weave, absorbent, washable and reusable, 8.oz. 4'x5' finished size

sorry about it being sideways... and here's as good a closeup of the weave as i could get with my camera

It's still in the plastic in case i've made a terrible mistake I can return it.

Does anyone know whether it'll work or not?  By the way, I need to wash it (with bleach as well as detergent?) then once it's dry rub flour into the weave?  is that how one turns it into a couche?

sergio83's picture

I'm still tying to make baguettes and having a lot of fun doing it.  I thought I'd try Anis Bouabsa's recipe as described by David (dmsnyder) here on Jane's (janedo) blog/page/thread(?): After converting grams to ounces to cups, or something along those lines-- I describe my "process" there-- I ended up using 1-3/4 cups of ap flour, and 6 oz of water, plus the yeast and the salt.  The ghetto comes into play because I used the everyday Pillsbury AP flour instead of the fancy stuff (I spent all my money on KA bread and white whole wheat flour), add to that that I measure by volume (I looked at scales the other day, I'm working on it) and that I spent more than 21 hours-- actually, I'm not sure how long it spent in the fridge, just that it was a little more than the 21 hours, but not much more than a few hours more, if that.

I ran into some familiar problems.

I've been proofing, shaping into baguettes on the pan that I put into the oven, letting them rise and then baking them without moving them.  My "shaping" skills leave a lot to be desired, I think my problem has to do mostly with how I'm not good at putting flour on the countertop-- so far, i put too much on and instead of rolling it just slides aroung and i end up pulling out the ends-- next time, i just won't put flour on the countertop.

This time, I tried to "pre-shape" (or something like that) the loaves so I did the push-fold-turn-push-fold seal thingy I've seen on youtube-- actually, if I'm stubborn about making mistakes, I hold this to blame: and then I rolled it-- so basically I shaped the baguette.  Then after an hour I shaped it again-- well, first I stretched it of of the parchment paper which is stuck to (I'm thinking it might be a bad idea to let it rise in a steamy oven, which I would do so that I wouldn't have to put anything over it which would then stick, but since it's sticking and messing up anyway...)  So I tried to reshape it again and roll it out on a lot of flour but I more slid it around instead.  It was also very stretchy, so I had to cut it in half and made two "baguettes" instead of one.

I also tried putting a cookie sheet in the oven to warm up before putting the loaves on it. Not surprisingly I made a mess of that and when I tried to slide the loaves onto the hot cookie sheet they slid into each other so they have a soft spot on one side-- actually though, I got what I think was some oven spring out of it... Or that may just have been because I forgot to score the loaves :S.

Anyway, here are the results of my little comedy of errors:

I couldn't find my camera last night so by the time i did we'd finished off half of one loaf.

I'm pretty happy about the crumb, though it seems to be somewhat irregularly irregular.

I'd have been ever so happy if the whole thing had come out like the right half of the above cross section... actually it might have (I forgot to mention that when i went to slide it I noticed that the tip was off the end of the parchment sheet so I tucked it in so maybe that's why the bubbles are so little.

As far as taste goes, it's not terribly fantastic.  It might have to do with the flour's brand, that the flour wasn't terribly fresh, or that I'm still trying to figure out how to balance out the salt and on this occasion I tried to guess on the miserly side.

I used more than the cup of flour I'm fond of, so for my next trick, I'll try it with 1 cup of flour and i'll figure out the rest of the ratios.  I think I'll also buy some KA brand ap flour.  I'll do the 21 hour cold rise... as far as shaping goes, I could take it out of the fridge and shape on the parchment paper i'll bake it on... but I think i'll take it out of the fridge and let it rest as a ball since I don't know what "pre-shaping" is.  I will not, however, put it in a steamy oven-- I'll cover it with oiled cling wrap instead and then a damp cloth... uy, i think it's gonna stick-- anyway, let me look some stuff up before I try...


sergio83's picture

So I think I finally figured out how this thing works... well, well enough to put up some pictures and some text around them-- this is how my 66% hydration (3 1/3 cups of bread flour and 2 1/3 cups of water?) came out.

The fork is to show how runny the dough-batter is.  I kneaded for about an hour-- though i could have stopped after 45 minutes, and I think this is what I ended up with (I took the pictures a while ago so I'm not really sure)

Okay now I get it, that was when I started to get tired of kneading.  After an hour, it looked like this:

hmmm... yeah, i'm such a mess, all my pictures are a mess i'm not sure what's from what-- anyway, i'll get to the good part--

so i baked the bread and this came out:

A sad flat little spaceship of a baguette... pitiful, oh pitiful, feel so sorry for me, as aretha would say.  And then:

MY BEST CRUMB EVER!!!!! It's not the best thing I've seen on this site, but it's the best i've managed to do!

and of course

Proving, to me at least, that it's what's on the inside that counts :)

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