The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Anis Bouabsa's baguettes

hungryscholar's picture

I am getting kind of stuck in a sourdough boule sort of rut and given the various possibilities I could be stuck here permanently and yet I'm hankering to be able to make a decent baguette. Hence, I've been wandering about this site and seeing some tasty looking recipes that play into my desire to let the dough do a lot of the work. Thanks to all these fine bakers for sharing their methods! But I was getting confused trying to keep the variations straight, so I put them into a table so I could try and see what was going on. So many routes to tasty bread to try out depending on how the mood strikes:


I changed it to an image so I could post it, this should be the PDF version on Google Docs

I put together some dough according to Bouabsa, but shaped and proofed according to Fromartz. Alas my slashing and shaping need some work in baguette form, but I'm pretty happy with the crumb:

drdudidu's picture

My successful try for Anis Bouabsa's baguettes

Franko's picture


A few months back while I was browsing some Vietnamese food sites, particularly [this one] I found myself lingering on the pages featuring Bahn Mi sandwiches with all their various fillings, the most common being pork in some fashion, fried, grilled, pulled etc, as well as ones using chicken, prawns, crab, there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rules when it comes the protein component of the sandwich. However the only bread to use for making them is a typical French baguette, a bread I seldom bake at home, mainly because of their very short shelf life. I love a fresh baguette just a few hours out of the oven, but if I can't finish it in a day, well... not so much. Regardless, I was determined to make the bahn mi using a fresh baked demi baguette and deal with whatever leftovers remained as best as possible. The first item on the agenda was to pickle some thin slices of carrot and daikon for garnishing the sandwich. I wasn't in any rush so they had a good 3 weeks pickling away in the garage before I was happy with the flavour. The next item was to get in some practice actually mixing and hand shaping baguettes. We used to make our own baguettes in our shop years ago but they were always shaped using a molder so my hand skills definately needed some upgrading. I decided to use Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette from "Bread" for the first mix since I've always found his formulae so reliable. The results were just OK, a fact I chalked up more to my lack of experience with the process than Mr Hamelman's formula. The crumb was too tight, lacking the larger irregular sized holes that it should have, but it tasted allright, considering. I should note that the flour I was using was Canadian Organic AP flour, a generic brand from the local supermarket, but more about that later on. For the second batch I went with the poolish baguette formula from Michel Suas' "Advanced Bread & Pastry", which resulted in almost the same type of crumb as the one from "Bread". The shaping was better, it tasted fine, but not there yet. Next I tried my own version using a levain with 100% rye starter that had a great flavour, not like any French style baguette I'm familiar with, but tasty and with a better crumb structure than the previous two. Still not what I wanted for the bahn mi though.Not one of the demi baguettes made so far had been used to make a bahn mi with, instead used for sub sandwiches which I eventually grew tired of. The project was put on hold while I did some other things and in the meantime gave some thought to blending a softer (10%) Cdn. pastry flour with the AP to see if that might help things along. Our Canadian AP flour typically has a protein content of 13.3% so a little higher than U.S. AP flour, and higher still I'm guessing than French flour or whatever type is used in Vietnam. Based purely on speculation I used a 75/25% blend of AP and pastry flour in the next mix, this time using Steve B's Baguettes a la Bouabsa from his very good site [].

That the formula uses a straight mix, retarded for 21 hours, held a lot of appeal for me schedule wise, being able to mix it an hour or two before going to bed, and have it ready for shaping an hour after getting home from work the following day. The only changes I made to the formula/process were to substitute the AP/Pastry blend for Meunere Milanese flour in Steve's formula, and to give it two stretch and folds on the bench over it's one hour bulk ferment, rather than the 6-8 in the bowl every 20 minutes Steve calls for. This time all the pieces came together to produce something I was happy with, a light,crusty loaf with a toasted wheaty flavour and enough irregular holes in the crumb to do the sandwich justice.

Many thanks to SteveB for making this recipe available!

From here on it was easy. Two small pieces of pork shoulder, say 60-65 grams total, pounded very thin with a mallet or rolling pin, marinated in lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, and sweet dark soy sauce for 1-2 hours, dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried till crispy. Toast or grill the bread, spread with a lime flavoured mayonnaise, add the pork and sprinkle with course sea salt, top with fried shallots, a [Vietnamese Slaw], and fresh pea or sunflower shoots, a sprig or two of fresh coriander perhaps...and that's it!

Some of the items mentioned above such as the pickled carrot-daikon, and fried shallots aren't visible in the photo, but they're in there somwhere, just buried under everything else. 

I know it may sound like a lot of time and effort to go to just to make a sandwich, but take my trials and tribulations of making the right sort of demi baguette out of the equation and it's no more trouble than making many of the world's great sandwiches. Give or take a few minutes, it's right up there with the likes of such classics as the Rueben, Cubano, Croque Monsieur, Porchetta, Philly Cheese Steak and Lobster Roll, to name just a few. Now that I have a baguette formula and process that I'm happy with, this sandwich goes on my All Star list of street food to be made again.



Rodger's picture

48-hour Baguettes, and beyond

July 13, 2010 - 5:47am -- Rodger

Last weekend I had lunchtime occasions lined up on both days.  On Friday morning, I began a large batch of Bouabsa-style dough at about 72% hydration.  I baked half of it on Saturday morning and put the remainder back into refrigeration.  Lunch rolled around, and I collected the usual lot of compliments and superlatives (only I could see the imperfect slashes, the slightly under-caramelized crust at the flanks, and so on). 

Jonathankane's picture

I made Don's Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation. I used fresh yeast and and Sel Gris de Guerande salt. The flavor is excellent! I baked these the same amount of time as other baguettes using Dmsnyder's  Anis Bouabsa's baguettes formula, but didn't get the darker crust -my crust has never been as dark as David's, but still excellent. I was concerned about over baking them, the internal temp was 200+ degrees. I want to thank Don and David for their great recipes. I just started baking recently and your posts have been very informative.




dmsnyder's picture



The "San Joaquin Sourdough" evolved from Anis Bouabsa's formula for baguettes. Most of my deviations developed in discussion on with Janedo, who first suggested adding sourdough starter and rye, and, then, leaving out the baker's yeast and making it as a "pure" pain au levain.

I have been using that formula – a 70-75% hydration dough with 90% white flour and 10% whole rye, raised with wild yeast – for the past 18 months, and it has been my favorite bread. However, I have recently begun using the mix of flours employed by Gérard Rubaud, as reported on The result is a bread with a wonderful aroma and flavor that can be easily made in two three to four hour blocks of time on two consecutive days.

San Joaquin Sourdough made with Gérard Rubaud's flour mix (Scaled for 1000 gms of dough)

Gérard Rubaud's flour mix


Baker's %


Final dough

Total dough



All Purpose







Whole Wheat














Whole Rye










Total Flour





Total Dough

Baker's %
















Baker's %








Active starter







Final Dough

Baker's %



















Mix the flours

Because the levain and the final dough use the same mix of four flours, it is most convenient to weigh them out and mix them ahead of time and use the mix, as called for in the formula.

Prepare the levain

Two days before baking, feed the starter in the evening and let it ferment at room temperature overnight.


In a large bowl, mix the levain with the water to dissolve it. Add the flours and salt and stir to form a shaggy mass. Cover tightly and let rest (autolyse) for 20 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula or a plastic scraper, stretch and fold the dough 30 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Cover tightly. Repeat this stretch and fold procedure 3 times more at 20 minute intervals.

 After the last series of stretches and folds, scape the dough into a lightly oiled 2 quart/2 liter container and cover tightly. (I use a 2 quart glass measuring pitcher with a tightly fitting plastic lid manufactured by Anchor Glass.)

After 45 minutes, transfer the dough to a lightly floured board and do a stretch and fold. Return the dough to the bowl. Let it rest 45 minutes and repeat the stretch and fold on the board. Return the dough to the bowl.


Ferment at room temperature for an hour or until it has expanded 25% or so. If you are using a glass bowl or pitcher, you should see small bubbles forming in the dough. Then place in the refrigerator and leave it there for 21 hours.

Dividing and Shaping

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat it into a rectangle. Divide as desired or leave in one piece. To pre-shape for a bâtard, fold the near edge up just past the center of the dough and seal the edge by gently pressing the two layers together with the ulnar (little finger) edge of your hand or the heel of your hand, whichever works best for you. Then, bring the far edge of the dough gently just over the sealed edge and seal the new seam as described.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and/or a kitchen towel and let it rest for 30-60 minutes, with the seams facing up. (The time will depend on ambient temperature and how active your starter is. The dough should have risen slightly, but not much.)

To shape a bâtard, fold the near edge of the dough and seal the edge, as before. Now, take the far edge of the dough and bring it towards you all the way to the work surface and seal the seam with the heel of your hand. Rotate the loaf gently toward you 1/4 turn so the last seam you formed is against the work surface and roll the loaf back and forth, with minimal downward pressure, to further seal the seam. Then, with the palms of both hands resting softly on the loaf, roll it back and forth to shape a bâtard. Start with both hands in the middle of the loaf and move them outward as you roll the loaf, slightly increasing the pressure as you move outward, so the bâtard ends up with the middle highest and the ends pointed .


Preheating the oven

One hour before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and prepare to steam the oven. Heat the oven to 500F.



After shaping the loaf, transfer it to parchment paper liberally dusted with semolina or a linen couche, liberally dusted with flour. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel or a fold of the linen. Proof until the loaf has expanded to about 1-1/2 times it's original size. (30-45 minutes) Do not over-proof, if you want good oven-spring and bloom!



Pre-steam the oven.

Slip a peel or cookie sheet under the parchment paper holding the loaf or transfer to a peel, if you used a couche. Score the loaf.

Transfer the loaf (and parchment paper, if used) to the baking stone, Steam the oven and turn the oven down to 460F.

After 12-15 minutes, remove your steam source from the oven. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees, if it is br

owning unevenly. Close the oven door.

Bake for another 12-15 minutes, then remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Check for doneness. (Nice crust color. Internal temperature of at least 205F. Hollow sound when you thump the bottom of the loaf.) If necessary, return to loaf to the oven to bake longer.

When the loaf is done, leave it on the baking stone with the oven turned off and the door ajar for 5-10 minutes to dry and crisp up the crust.



Cool on a rack for two hours before slicing.



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...



Subscribe to RSS - Anis Bouabsa's baguettes