The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

65 % Baguette

madisonbaker26's picture

After a rather sad attempt at a 75% hydration baguette, I decided to spend a lot more time practicing boules and batards with Susan's Norwich Sourdough loaf.  I finally gained enough confidence to try my hand at baguette shaping, but I wanted a lower hydration dough to work with as I still haven't quite gotten the knack of handling high hydration doughs without making a huge mess.

So I set out to make the 65% hydration baguette.  I followed the recipe, except I needed a longer bulk fermentation to compensate for my cold kitchen and a slightly longer bake time.  To my surprise, I was awarded with the best bread I've baked to date.  The crust was thin, blistered and crackly; the crumb was creamy, sweet and holey. They were just ever so slightly sour. Heck...even some of my cuts opened really well!  Thanks proth5 and dmsnyder...I'll be making these again to get lots of practice with shaping and scoring before moving on to wetter dough.

Finished baguettes:

Cross section:


zorrambo's picture

I followed Reinhart’s BBA French bread recipe and instructions as closely as possible. My pate fermentee fermented for 1 hour at then put it in the refrigerator for 1 ½ days. I noticed that it had doubled in size while in the fridge. I didn’t expect such a rise. I mixed the final dough using a smidge over a teaspoon of barley malt syrup, reduced the water to compensate and added about a tablespoon of flour while kneading. I added the malt because last time I made this recipe I got poor rise. The primary fermentation lasted 2 hours, temp 76°F, humidity 51%. I proofed the baguettes for 1 hour 45 minutes, temp 78°F, humidity 51%. This was longer than I expected but it looked about 1 ½ times bigger though I am not a good judge of peak rise. I slashed with a bread knife and put them in a 500°F oven with steam pan and misting oven walls. I baked on a sheet pan because I don’t have tiles. The oven temp was lowered to 450°F for 20 min, then at 375°F for 30 min then at 350°F for 20 min. I checked the internal temperature of the bread every ten minutes of bake time and it never got above 170°F after a total bake time over 70 minutes. The bottom of the bread was black and I gave up and pulled them out. I have a brand new oven with an additional oven thermometer inside to monitor the temperature. I am new to artisanal bread making but I am determined. Here is a picture of my poor friends. I am unhappy with the crumb and the thick crust.


Doughtagnan's picture

This Sunday I baked one "test" baguette as I had been a bit busy playing with a new toy (an allotment!) so the dough had been a bit neglected and not worked much etc. The recipe was (loosely) based around the proth5 65% hydration baguette but my flour was a mix of some leftover french Pain de Campagne flour with some Spelt and 00 to make up around 300grams (the starter was rye). As it did not seem to be very lively or rising much so I did the test bake and put the rest in the fridge overnight as I thought the dough did not look very promising. However, the test bake was far more successful than expected, further proof that dough is pretty resilient!


After being left in the fridge overnight I hamfistedly shaped into two further baguettes and proofed the dough for an hour or so and baked with steam on max fan 250 for about 12 mins, results were even better, with much more oven spring. Also after watching the Lyon based "Bob the baker" on BBC TV slashing his baguettes my technique is coming on - I just used a hand held razor blade and one turned out better than the other, oh well. Cheers Steve


breadbakingbassplayer's picture

Hey All,

Just wanted to share with you some baguettes that I made last night...  Nothing fancy, but I think they turned out pretty nice except for the slightly burnt bottom on a few of them...  These are 65% hydration using a firm 60% hydration sourdough starter and active dry yeast...  I think it's a variation on Eric Kaiser's Baguette Monge, but using American flours, and a firm sourdough starter instead of a liquid one...  It's probably closer to Dominique Saibron's baguettes that do use the firm sourdough starter... 

Also, the 2nd one from the right is the one I cut into.  It slid off my peel before I even opened the oven door.  I caught it before it hit the ground, but in doing so stretched it out, and ruined my slashes...  It tasted fine, but looks a little skinnier than the other 7...  Posting the recipe below.  Enjoy!



Total Dough Weight: 2850g

Yield: 8 x 15" baguettes at 280g weight after bake

75% AP - 1140g (Whole Foods 365)

20% BF - 304g (KA Bread Flour)

5% Graham Flour - 76g (Bob's Red Mill)

20% Firm Sourdough Starter - 304g (straight from fridge fed day before)

65% Water - 988g

2% Kosher Salt - 30g

0.4% Active Dry Yeast - 6g (1 1/2 tsp)


Day before:

Feed sourdough starter, or convert liquid starter to firm starter.  Leave on counter at room temp for 4 hrs, refrigerate until ready to use.

Bake day:

1.  Measure out all ingredients.

2.  Place water and sourdough starter cut in pieces in large mixing bowl.  Then, add all dry ingredients at once, mix with wooden spoon until all is combined in a shaggy dough, knead in bowl with wet hands for about 5 minutes, cover and autolyse for 30 minutes.

3.  After autolyse, knead dough 50 strokes in bowl with wet hands, cover and let rest for 30 mins.

4.  Turn dough in bowl, cover and let rest for 30 mins.

5.  Turn dough in bowl, cover and let rest for 1 hr.

6.  After rest, dough should have doubled in size.  To test, poke dough with a floured finger.  If impression remains, dough is ready.

7.  Divide into 8 pieces approx 356g, preshape and cover with cloth and plastic, let rest for 15 minutes.

8.  Final shape baguettes, place 1st 4 in (lightly floured) linen couche on a tray, place in plastic bag, and retard in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Shape remaning 4, and proof for 30-45 minutes in linen couche.  Also place these 4 in large plastic bag so they don't dry out.  Arrange 2 baking stones in the oven along with a steam pan, and preheat to 500F with convection.

9.  When oven reaches 500F and 1st set of baguettes are proofed, carefully turn baguettes onto wooden peel, slash 5 times, place in oven.  When all baguettes are in, pour 3/4 cup of water into steam pan (use oven mitts), close door and bake for 8 minutes at 480F with convection, rotate and bake at 450F with convection for another 12-15 minutes or until internal temp reaches 210F.  Take out 2nd set of baguettes from fridge while these are baking.

10.  When first set of baguettes are out of the oven, preheat oven to 500F with convection.  When oven reaches temp, bake the 2nd set.

11.  Cool for 1 hr before eating.

Notes: I preheated my oven to 550F with convection...  This probably caused a few of them that were started on the bottom stone to have slighly burnt bottoms...  Also, my firm sourdough starter was started with organic rye flour, and then at some point converted to AP or bread flour.  Now it has some graham flour in it...  I feed it every few days with either 50g AP, and 30g water, or 100g AP and 60g water, leave it on the counter for 4 hours, feed it again, and return it to the fridge.  I usually use it 1-3 days after the last feeding...

Also, I have been seeing a few thread suggesting that you can bake breads in cold oven without preheating it to 50F to 100F above your desired bake temp...  I just have to say that that is bull-crap! at least for making baguettes, which need that initial high heat from the oven/baking stone to get the full oven spring, and rich carmelized crust...

 Submitted to Yeastspotting on 2/9/10

proth5's picture

 This entry is dedicated to - well, you know who you are...

I have been thinking a great deal lately about the influences that Chinese and Japanese culture have had in my life.

My long time in cross cultural Penang, Malaysia has cemented certain Chinese rituals in my life and the approach of the Lunar New Year has brought my exposure to Chinese culture to the foreground.  My imminent return to the Ryukyu (Okinawa) and my daily Japanese language lessons (courtesy of Rosetta Stone) remind me of the influence that Japan has had on me throughout my entire life.

As one might guess from my user name, there is no genetic reason for this.  My heritage (complete with blonde hair and lactose tolerance) is purely Northern European. I joke about my "little Japanese grandmother" teaching me things at her knee, but my grandmother was Pennsylvania Dutch and although she would have been fascinated with some of the things that I have learned, they could not be farther from the world in which she lived.

I also joke about "becoming invisible" in Okinawa.  Yes, the big, pale woman with the blonde, curly hair can hardly be seen in a crowd. Nice fantasy.  In fact, although adults are much too polite, children stare at me like the out of place creature that I am.

But Japan has been part of my life since childhood.  The same strange winds that caused me to learn French as a small child sent me a good friend whose family was transferred to Japan.  On her return visits we explored Japanese traditional fashion, gardening, paper folding, and, of course, the elegant use of chopsticks with the intensity that only nerdy children can bring.  As a result, the koi that swim in my backyard pond are the realization of a childhood dream, my Christmas tree is decorated with origami, and my obsession with linen is only equaled by my obsession with Japanese indigo (neither one an inexpensive obsession- best to stick with baking.)

So what does any of this have to do with bread?  I have become convinced that it has a lot to do with my approach to bread baking.

In one of my alternate lives I collected the works of a Japanese printmaker - Shigeki Kuroda.  In Japanese fashion this artist has devoted himself to one subject area.  That subject is bicycles and umbrellas in the rain.  He has produced infinite variations on this very narrow theme in an attempt to explore every aspect of it.   Here I recognize my method of endless repetition of what seems to be identical formulas with tiny variations attempting to understand every aspect of a particular type of loaf

One of my luxuries while in Okinawa is breakfast at my hotel.  Every little dish is just as good as it can be - scrambled eggs are perfectly creamy - raw squid is perfectly fresh - the coffee is better than what I have had in Paris.  Why bread is without taste (although beautiful) is a mystery to me and I have come to the conclusion that it must be a cultural preference, not a flaw.

So immediately upon my arrival for a brief visit home (to do those things that are required to keep my life from shredding during my next absence) my instinct was to bake baguettes.  This break from baking represented the longest time in between bakes for me in a number of years. My levain had been cared for by the person who is caring for my pets and was in top shape. As I baked my standard formula yet again, in my never ending attempt to reach absolute perfection (didn't make it, yet) I was relieved to learn that I hadn't forgotten how to bake.

Then one day I mixed up a levain pate fermentée for another purpose and changed my mind.  I decided to make a pate fermentée based levain baguette.  After all, it was time to explore this different aspect of the same bread.

The formula is simplicity in itself.  It is lean dough using King Arthur All Purpose flour.  The pate fermentée was at 63% hydration with 2% salt.  The starter was 25% of the total weight of the pate fermentée.  15% of the flour was prefermented and the overall formula was at 65% hydration with 2% salt.   My total dough weight for two baguettes was 20.6 ounces.  Like the annoying authors of physics textbooks, I will leave the calculation of the exact formula weights as an exercise for the reader.

I used my standard method of mixing by "folding in the bowl."  I added the preferment in small blobs at the beginning of the mix (oh, the horror!) because I wanted to avoid any heavy duty effort in incorporating the preferment into some already partially developed dough.

The dough had a bulk ferment of 5.5 hours with a single stretch and fold at 2.5 hours.  I was frankly unhappy with the dough development after 5.5 hours and had resolved myself to concluding that "sometimes the bear gets you."  I really think that the bulk fermentation was affected by the salt in the preferment and if I were determined to use this method, I might want to increase the percentage of flour prefermented to compensate on the next try. But I was out of time and shaped the loaves in my usual fashion, proofed them for about an hour and slashed and baked as usual.

The results follow.  My sojourn in the Ryukyu, alas, has done nothing for my photography skills (I really don't know why these pictures come out so pale, the flash on my camera apparently can't be disabled...).

The loaves

The crumb

Not bad.  We could play "list the flaws" but the doctors at "the place" have told me that this is not healthy (and if all y'all can't find the major shaping flaw, then I'm not going to tell you.)  The taste was just a bit more sour than usual, but that is not very sour.  The crust was crispy after cooling.

Once again, I will point out that the open crumb did not depend upon having a high hydration (because 65% is hardly a high hydration) or my not deflating the dough (iron hand in velvet glove still applies - but I'm not afraid to smack down a fermentation bubble if it gets in my way) but from a proper fermentation.  This crumb was not as open as my typical crumb, but was far from unacceptable.

So as I prepare for my return to the Ryukyu and a longer break from baking than I can currently imagine (unless I can get a job at the local bakery) I'm content with this foray into an infinitesimally different style of baguette baking.  I look forward to sticky rice, pig ears, bitter melon, raw fish, and seaweed at breakfast and the next adventure.

Happy Baking!

Doughtagnan's picture

After reading the excellent recipe  by Pat (proth5),  posted by dmsnyder  I thought i'd give these a go over the weekend and well, it must be a good recipe as even in my ham fisted hands I managed to turn out some very tasty bread, even if I need to watch some more shaping 'n' slashing videos!  I varied it by using 300 grams of flour / 195ml eau (plus the rye starter) and made an overnight sponge with roughly 100g of the flour, starter and water the day before.  The one on the right was baked 1st and was better, must have been the proofing en plastic guttering! I had thought i'd slashed it fairly deeply but the rise was quite impressive. 

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