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baguette tradition

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't know how many different formula's for baguettes I've tried, but the one with the best flavor was that for the Pain à l'Anciènne of Phillip Gosselin. (See: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/8524/philippe-gosselin039s-pain-à-l039ancienne-according-peter-reinhart-interpretted-dmsnyder-m).

During our recent visit to Paris, one of the breads we had was Gosselin's Baguette Tradition, and it was very similar to the Pain à l'Anciènne I had made. The differences were that the crumb was more open, chewier and had a mild sourdough tang. I don't know whether Gosselin makes his Baguette Tradition using the same long cold retardation as employed in his Pain à l'Anciènne, but I suspect he does.

Gosselin's Baguette Tradition from the bakery on Rue Caumartin

Gosselin's Baguette Tradition crumb

Today, I made baguettes using the Gosselin technique, but I substituted a liquid levain for the yeast … well, I did also spike the dough with a little instant yeast to better control the fermentation time.

Ingredients

Wt.

Baker's %

WFM Organic AP Flour

400 g

100

Ice Water

275 g

69

Salt

8.75 g

2

Liquid Levain

200 g

50

Instant yeast

¼ tsp

 

Total

883.75 g

221

Note: Accounting for the flour and water in the levain, the total flour is 500 g and the total water is 375 g, making the actual dough hydration 75%. The actual salt percentage is 1.75%.

Method

  1. The night before baking, mix the flour and levain with 225 g of ice water and immediately refrigerate.

  2. The next morning, add the salt, yeast and 50 g of ice water to the dough and mix thoroughly. (I did this by hand by squishing the dough between my fingers until the water was fully incorporated.)

  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl with a tight cover.

  4. Ferment at room temperature until the dough has about doubled in volume. (3 hours for me) Do stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes for the first two hours.

  5. An hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF, with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.

  6. Divide the dough into 4 more or less equal pieces and stretch each into a 12-14 inch long “baguette.”

  7. Score and bake immediately at 460ºF, with steam for 10 minutes, and for about 20 minutes total.

  8. Cool on a rack before eating.

Baguettes Tradition

Baguette Tradition crumb

The crust was crunchy and the crumb was nicely open and chewy. It was moderately sour but with nice sweet flavors as well. All in all, it was quite similar to the baguette tradition we had from Gosselin's bakery. The loaves are smaller with proportionately more crust than crumb. The crust was a bit thinner, and the crumb a bit chewier. My totally unbiased, super taster spouse declared it “much better” than what we had in Paris. I don't know about that, but it is quite good – close to my notion of a perfect sourdough baguette - and I expect to make it again and again.

David

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Obsessive Ingredient Weigher's picture
Obsessive Ingre...

Below are some detailed crust and crumb photos of Gosselin's "baguette tradition"/"baguette ancienne" from Paris + a report on the experience! I managed to get to all 3 of his shops...


On my first day in the city, I went to the 125 Rue Saint Honore location by the Louvre. Nice shop. Moderate size. Lots of pastries. I was the only one in there at 10AM as the staff was milling around. The cashier was very pleasant. As I left the shop, I broke off a piece of the "baguette ancienne" (btw - this is the only one of the three locations that calls it "ancienne" instead of "tradition") and was sorely disappointed. Much like many of the lower quality baguettes in Paris, it tasted overwhelmingly of hard water and/or raw flour. Fortunately, I purchased two baguettes, so I later tore into the other one...but only to find the same thing...horrible flavor. Somehow I was not discouraged, and I knew I had two more shops to go...


The next morning I visited the 28 Rue Caumartin location. It's on a sleepy street. Relatively small shop. Again, I was the only person in the boulangerie, but the cashier was hurried and not entirely pleasant with me. And, yes, I speak French, so she wasn't just being surly to the "American tourist". Upon leaving the shop, I dug into the baguette and was hit with the same disgusting flavor from the baguettes the day before. I now had major doubts about the quality of Gosselin's famous baguettes. How could they be so beloved and yet be so bad? But I still hadn't been to the flagship store, so I decided to give Gosselin one last try...


Saturday morning I wandered down the Boulevard Saint Germain. Gorgeous street. And despite my underwhelming experiences from the days before, I was excited. The numbers on the building counted down until there I was at 258 Boulevard Saint Germain...




With a shop this pretty, the baguette had to be good, right? I scooted around to the other side of the building and snapped a cliched shot of an old Parisian man shuffling out, baguette in-hand...




I walked inside, ready to give Gosselin his last chance...




There it was, above the register on the right, the "baguette tradition"...




I walked down the Boulevard and took a shot of the virgin loaf. The crust was dark and very well-caramelized. The scent was not too pronounced: very slightly sweet with a hint of nuttiness. This was surprising to me, as my "pain a l'ancienne" loaves have a very distinct pistachio scent...




I sat on a bench, ripped off a piece and gave a taste. Delicious! I don't know who makes the bread at the other two shops, as all three are supposed to have the same source, but this was a world apart...




I walked along thoroughly enjoying my baguette until I reached the banks of the Seine, where I had to take a few more photos. In the few minutes between my first bite and the river, I was blown away. The top crust tasted subtly but clearly of roasted marshmallows. The bottom crust was more blunt, although delicious. And, odd as it may seem, the closest thing I can compare it to are the crispy, slightly charred edges and nooks of a Thomas' English Muffin. Not the most sophisticated flavor in the world, but there it was. The crumb, as you can see, was cream-colored and tasted just like it looked, creamy and smooth...




Just look at that grigne and the gorgeous colors...




The baguettes definitely have an irregular shape, nothing neat and perfectly uniform about them...




I was so happy with my experience on Saturday, that I went back to the shop on Monday morning, got another baguette and sat in the Tuileries Gardens by the Louvre to snap a few more shots on a park bench.




The baguettes have a beautiful oven spring...




Admittedly, this second loaf wasn't quite the religious experience that the one from Saturday morning had been. It definitely hadn't spent as much time in the oven, so there wasn't a tremendous amount of character to the flavor. Visually, excellent crust and excellent crumb, but I'd only go so far as to describe the flavor as "solid".


Clearly, the key is to get a "baguette tradition" only from the Saint Germain flagship store, and make sure it has a deep amber crust. It's guaranteed to knock your socks off.


I sampled many other baguettes while in Paris. Most ranged from terrible to boring. One from the Le Moulin de la Vierge was adequate and certainly worth going for if you're near the Eiffel Tower and need a baguette fix. And I have to say I was quite impressed with the one I had at Gerard Mulot. While it didn't soar to the heights of my Saturday Gosselin experience, it was excellent and absolutely one to check out.


I'd love to hear your thoughts, whether you've experienced Gosselin's work first-hand or love making these loaves yourself. I thought having some close-up photos would be a great thing to share, as I know how many of us love to work on Gosselin's/Reinhart's "pain a l'ancienne" and how much detailed imagery can help us out with our experiments. Bon appetit!

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