Nothing special, just playing around for anybody interested:
But, of course I have a question.
I've been fooling around with this concept of retarding the dough (because my faithful limo driver enjoys my bread when it is fresh and I want him to have it, but not so much that I want to get up at 3AM and mix dough...)and did a batch of baguettes (albeit sourdough, albeit 68% hydration) that I retarded for the bulk ferment.
I was pretty darned unhappy about the way they rolled out. It required a lot of effort and I never did satisfactorily wrestlethe things into shape - even after a second period of bench rest. Identical dough (not just the same method, but the same actual mix) behaved much better when not retarded.
Do you have any observations on your dough handling after the bulk ferment in the cold?
After the 21 hour cold fermentation, I let the dough warm to ambient temperature before dividing and shaping. The dough behaved beautifully, with nice extensibility.
As you know, the gluten continues to develop, up to a point, over extended fermentation periods. Perhaps your dough just became overly developed. You might try mixing your dough to a lower degree of development (short mix) before retarding and see if that gives a better behaved dough.
also. I guess my particular experiment that time around was to see how the same mix would behave under three different conditions.
The dough actually went through a fairly short mix - about 4 mins on low speed with the mixer at about a third of capacity - when I think about it and wasn't really that well developed when I took it from the mixer.
I guess I was also trying to understand why I recently heard (from one of my usual well qualified sources) that he would never retard sourdough during the bulk ferment because he was scared about how hard it would be to shape -the acids adding so much strength to the dough and all. So many people find retarding for the bulk ferment to be an attractive technique and I was wondering at his statement.
Maybe the sourdough really has an impact, because the dough fermented at room temperature with a stretch and fold added did handle nicely. Although to my hands sourdough never handles as nicely as commercially yeasted dough.
I've not repeated the experiment with commercial yeast, but if I do I may shorten the mix time but will definitely warm the thing to room temperature before shaping.
Just changing everything to keep the love fresh:>)
I've heard the same thing. All the pro bakers I've spoken with who retard their sourdough do so after the dough has been shaped. This, they say, is because the acids formed during a long fermentation would strengthen the dough enough to significantly affect the ability to shape. Because I don't retard my pain au levain, I've never had first-hand experience with the effect.
I'm a baguette novice, rarely making them and when I have, I've used my mixer. I bake sourdoughs primarily and as you've noted, the dough is shaped before retarding. Except for David's Bouabsa sourdough baguette formula, which I mixed by hand Friday night (using KAF AP).
As I now keep a pretty firm starter, I withheld some of the water and used it to soften the levain. After the 40 minute autolyse, I added the salt, yeast, and mushed up starter. The starter/water mix just laid on top of the dough and using both hands to mix it reminded me of playing with very wet clay when I was a kid.
Truthfully, I didn't think it would come together so after a few minutes of dough-squishing, I washed my hands, covered the bowl, and set the timer. Sixty minutes and 60 S&Fs later, the dough was wonderful. The dough was retarded for about 15 hours (instead of David's recommended 20 hours), then on Saturday it was shaped, proofed, and baked. No issues shaping the baguettes and the dough scored easily. The Sourdough Goddess must have been smiling over my kitchen as even the cuts opened well. For the first time, I had made baguettes that looked great.
No idea about the crumb because I gave those baguettes to friends with a nearby cottage. Ardent MSU football fans, after Saturday's loss I figured they could drown their sorrows over baguettes.
I mixed a second batch of dough Saturday night, following the exact procedure of Friday - except I used my Bosch compact. The second mix was around three or four minutes then the dough was retarded for 16 hours. The difference between the hand mix and machine mix showed up Sunday, when I attempted to shape the dough. It was different and like Pat's experience, I had to fight to get it into baguette shapes. They weren't pretty, nor was the scoring result. In spite of that, the taste and crumb are both wonderful.
Was the difference in handling and shaping because of the extra hour of cooler time or the type of mixing? My instincts tell me mixing by hand made the difference.
That was such a nice experience, I've got to try your formula this weekend, Steve. Thanks for shaing it.
I think your instincts are right on the mark! In my experience, hand mixing has always resulted in beautifully supple and well behaved doughs.
Hey Pat,Perhaps your preshaping was a bit too tight and as a result your final shape was difficult to stretch out? Maybe try preshaping into a (oval) piece one-third to one-half the size of your final shape, rather than a round, then your final shape would be easy to achieve. Maybe.
but I don't recall pre shaping differently on the different batches. I tried to stay consistent so I could see the impact of retarding the dough for the bulk ferment.
I've been pre shaping in loose rounds (on "who know who's" instructions) for years, and can usually roll out a pretty nice levain baguette from there - but I'm "going rougue" and changing my preshape to a more square/oval to see if I like it better. So far my feelings are mixed.
I think there is something to the whole "don't retard sourdough for the bulk ferment" statement, though. This stuff fought back even when I was dividing it.
And when I describe difficulties in rolling the baguette, realize that I'm working on the last 10%. They were perfectly nice little baguette shapes - just a little shorter and feistier than I like.
I've also (as you may have noticed) abandoned the hand mix for the one speed spiral which, because I've worked with spirals before and really liked them, I am enjoying greatly. It does change a few things, but it is nice to set the thing to go and be able to walk away and get something else done - and dough development takes minutes rather than hours (as done by hand).
those are quite special looking baguettes, Steve. Beautifully shaped, scored and oh, the openness of the crumb. Beautiful handiwork!
of your posts are special and highly valued. Glad to see you back! As usual, those are nice breads.
Just another spectacular bake by SteveB. <yawn>
C'mon, man, those are simply gorgeous baguettes!
Quite awesome baguettes, Steve. Is your Canadian flour similar to the French flour you received from Jane?
Although I was hoping that it would be similar to the T55 flour I received from Jane, the La Meunerie Milanaise AP (T55) flour, looked, smelled and behaved quite differently. It is rather quite similar in characteristics to KAF AP flour, although it does produce a dough with somewhat more extensibility.
Right off the top let me say that those are the sweetest looking baguettes I've seen since Txfarmer's 36 hour version. Just gorgeous!
I was interested in your comparison of the Milanaise flour to KAF AP, but what you didn't mention was anything regarding flavour differences..if any. As I live in Canada, the Milanaise is readily available to me, whereas KAF is something that I have to have shipped in . Stan from NYBakers has said that he would ship me some KAF but I wonder if I might be just as well off to use the Milanaise and avoid waiting for delivery as well as shipping costs. Are there any appreciable differences between the two, and which do you prefer? Thanks for any input you may have, as well as for breadcetera.com. I go to it often to study your techniques.
I've seen very little, if any, difference in flavor when baking with either the KAF AP or the Meunerie Milanaise flour. If I were in your situation, I would be using the Meunerie Milanaise flour without hesitation and not worry about importing KAF AP flour. I wish the Meunerie Milanaise flour was more readily available here in the U.S.
I appreciate your response and the info. Milanaise it is.
What gorgeous looking baguettes, all around! Thank you for the formula with your helpful instructions. The photo's are such an inspiration....you make it sound and look so easy! And, that is what you do so well! Thank you for creating your baking site and inviting us over to share another gorgeous bake.
Spectacular baguettes, Steve!