The Fresh Loaf

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Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

In this third installment of my weekly attempts to bake a passable baguette, conflict, drama, and a rather too hot oven arise.


Where we last left our heroes:


My weekly goal is to master (sort of) Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish. Last week's baguette possessed only a so-so flavor and texture, a crumb that was somewhat too tight, crust that was a tad chewy, and irregular scoring.  This week I added a few modifications:



  1. I fermented the poolish for only 9 hours instead of 12.  I'm making only a half batch compared to Hamelman's Home measurements, and it stood to reason that if 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in ~21 oz of poolish is ready in 12 hours, the same yeast in half the poolish would take less time

  2. By accident, I left the oven temperature at 535 degrees (probably more like 515 measured by a more reasonable oven than mine) for the first 6 minutes of the bake.

  3. After the baguettes had finished baking, I turned off the oven, propped the door open, and left them in for another 5 minutes, in hopes of a crisper crust.


The Results: External Shots


Crumb: 

As you can see, the crumb was relatively tight, and the scores very shallow, and so in that respect this batch was pretty disappointing.  On the other hand, at least the slashes were a little more consistent?  However, the flavor was somewhat better, and although the crumb lacked big open holes, it had a creamier texture than past weeks.  The crust was also nicer--although a little chewy on the bottom, the rest was thin and crispy.

As for why this happened, I have a few thoughts, although if anyone else has some I'd love to hear it.  I think the poolish is still over-fermenting.  Although it wasn't as bad, I could still smell the alcohol, which isn't a good sign.  I can't reasonably let a poolish sit overnight for much less than 9 hours, so I'll have to either cut the yeast (tricky when I'm starting from 1/8 tsp), or make extra poolish and throw some away.  I also think that goofing up the oven temperature may have hampered the ability of the cuts to open, although I think primarily I just didn't slash deeply enough.  I also wonder if I might be degassng too much when I shape the baguettes.

I think next week I'm not going to vary anything except to change the yeast proportion in the poolish, and skip the goof on the oven temperature.  If I still get a tight crumb, then I'll examine other factors.

-Ryan

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

My quest for a passable baguette continues.  To recap: In an attempt to improve my baguette skills, I'm making the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelman's Bread every weekend until I get it right(-ish).  Following my experience from week 1, I made two changes:


First, I increased the baking temperature.  Last week the baguettes were simply not browned enough after the 26 minutes recommended by Hamelman.  This surely has as much to do with my oven as anything else--I've always had problems with it's notion of just how hot 450 degrees is as compared to mine.


Second, I resisted my home-baker's instinct to spray exposed surfaces of the dough with spray oil at every opportunity, and for the final proof of the shaped baguettes, I mostly covered the dough with the folds of my trusty tablecloth-couche, and then with plastic wrap.


The Results:


 Exterior 


 Crumb 

The Debrief

Crust was nice and dark but could be more caramelized still.  My scoring was still pretty irregular, but somewhat improved from last week.  More importantly, as a result of omitting the spray oil for the final proof, the scores were easier and the blade dragged less.  On a few of the scores started to get the feel for how the lame ought to bite into the loaf.  But although I got about 2 good scores per loaf, that's not quite enough.  I also clearly need to work on keeping the scores separate from each other.

 The crumb, as you can see, was somewhat underwhelming; the more creamy, gel-like texture still eludes me.  Flavor was good, but not what I know this formula is capable of.  Crust was crisper than last week, but still a bit chewy.

For Next week:

I have a few ideas:

  • Start trying variations on the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" to get a crisper crust
  • Try to do exactly 4 scores per baguette; I think part of my problem is varying length and number
  • Change the Poolish fermentation time: So far I've had 1/8 tsp yeast in 5.3 oz. each of flour and water, fermented for 12 hours (and I've actually been pretty good about keeping it to 12 hours, not longer or shorter).  Since Hamelman suggests a similar quantity of yeast for twice the Poolish (I'm doing half a "Home" batch), perhaps a shorter ferment is in order.

Any other suggestions, diagnoses, or critiques greatly appreciated!

 

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

This is a three bake weekend for me, and I thought I'd offer this shot of the midpoint of it all.


From right to left: Poolish Baguettes, fresh out of the oven.  A bag of sourdough bagels (the BBA formula), baked this morning for breakfast.  And a batch of dough for Vermont Sourdough with Increased Whole Grain, currently in the bulk fermentation stage to be baked tomorrow.


jennyloh's picture

Baguette is not white - why?

October 3, 2010 - 5:40am -- jennyloh

I've been trying baguette for a few tries,  I finally seem to get it right,  the shape,  the slashing,  the crumbs.  But my baguettes are not white.  Why?  I've been using Gold Medal AP flour,  German brand 550,  Gold Medal Bread Flour,  all of them did not turn out the baguettes that are white.  What might have gone wrong? or is it the flour?

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I've been trying to bake artisan bread for about three years now, since I picked up a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice as an exchange for a Christmas present.  In that time, I've never been particularly good about focusing on one particular bread and practicing it until I get it down, as so many of the wise bakers on this site recommend.  There are a couple of breads that I've mastered anyway, simply because I love them and bake them often enough to do blindfolded--the BBA Italian Bread in particular.  Starting this week, however I'm going to try to amend that, in a way sure to put me deep in over my head.  My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error.  I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know.  But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.


So, every Saturday from now until I get it right (or get sick of it), I will be baking three baguettes using the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelmans Bread.  I have made this formula before with varying success, and on the first occasion just about nailed it by pure luck and accident--nice ears, open crumb, the works.  I know it can be done, if not precisely how.


This is the formula:


Poolish



  • 5.3 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 1/8 tsp yeast


Final Dough



  • 10.7 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 5/8 tsp yeast

  • 0.3 oz. salt


Note: I halve the quantities that Hamelman calls for--we can only eat so many baguettes!


Process:



  1. Mix Poolish night before

  2. Mix all ingrediants with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes  

  3. Mix in mixer ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 

  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula  

  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold  

  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into 9 oz. pieces, pre-shape as cylinders  

  7. Rest 10-20 minutes

  8. Shape as baguettes, place on couche, spray with oil.  

  9. Proof 1 hour  

  10. Pre-heat oven to 515 and stone 45 minutes before baking

  11. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan, score.

  12. Cover oven vent, slide parchment onto stone, pour steam, lower temp to 460.  

  13. Bake 24-26 minutes, uncovering the vent, and turning the baguettes around after 10.


Pictures from week 1:


 

The dough was reluctant to slash, and so the scoring is all irregular. Still, it formed a nice ear along the slashes.  I'm thinking for next time I will make two changes: first, I will cover the baguettes while proofing, but not spray them; I think the surface was too wet to score easily.  Second, I'm going to increase the oven temperature--I kept the baguettes in for almost 30 minutes, and you can see how much color they got.  I'm aware that my oven doesn't get as hot as it says it does; I just have to calibrate what temp actually bakes a nice baguette in 25 minutes.

I'll update with crumb pictures later.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions; but for certain I'll be back next week to try again!

Update: Typical crumb shot below.  Surprisingly nice given the irregular scoring.  Crust wasn't as crisp as it might be; if changing the oven temp doesn't fix that I'll think about applying the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" method, but one thing at a time.  Texture of the crumb was more fluffy than creamy, and the flavor just okay; I've done better with this formula.  But, again, one thing at a time.

sourdoughboy's picture
sourdoughboy

Prehistory: waaaay back in 2007, I was obsessed with making Neapolitan pizza at home--self-clean cycle, quarry tiles, Jeff Varasano. That's where I first learned about autolysing and slow fermentation. And it explains my unhealthy preoccupation with getting the wide open crumb. During this time I also made some nice lemon rolls (from a sticky bun recipe, minus the cinnamon, minus sticky topping, lemon zest in place of cinnamon:


Pizza crumb


After baking at least one pizza a day for 40 days, I was baked out.


Fast forward to 2010. Somewhere between having delicious bread while on vacation this August in Los Angeles (homemade by my friend Daisy, and also from Breadbar (alpine loaf!!!)), baking a few disappointing loaves for an office event, discovering The Fresh Loaf, watching this video of Richard Bertinet masterfully kneading super-sticky dough, and dating a woman who loves bread, I caught the baking bug...


Day 1: Stock up on King Arthur flour (bread and AP). Order sourdough starter from Breadtopia...


Day 2: Feed starter...


Day 3: Wait...


Day 4: Baking test day! Sourdough baguette I and Brioche I


For the baguette, I roughly follow the method outlined in this post by dmsnyder, along with the baguette shaping technique shown here. Since I'm now obsessed with Bertinet's slap-fold technique, I knead more than is called for in the recipe. I'm very pleased with the resulting mini-baguette: it's got a nice sourdough tang (thanks Breadtopia!), chewy moist open crumb, and a crunchy crust:


 



I'm simultaneously working on a test brioche--have plans to make the real brioche the next day to impress gf--using this recipe (but kneading by hand, a la Bertinet). Delish! I eat one slice, feed the rest to my housemates.



Day 5: The brioche loaf that counts + baguette take 2


Though Brioche I was very tasty, I decide that I'd like a little airier texture. So I let the loaf proof for an extra 30 minutes or so, till it's really truly doubled in bulk, though being semi-careful not to let it overproof (not that I really know how to prevent that). I may be imagining things, but I think Brioche II is slightly airier, as I was hoping for. Gf is very pleased.



I also do a second baguette, taking more care in the shaping this time. Happily, I get an even more open crumb this time around:



Day 6: Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day arrives in mail. I have designs on making babka (for gf), sourdough hamburger buns (for house bbq) and an assortment of breads for my best friend's foodie mom... (and, now that I take a closer look at these pics, fixing the white balance on my camera!)


 


 

nextguy's picture

Crust problems with my mini-baguettes

September 13, 2010 - 7:20am -- nextguy
Forums: 

Hi all,


I am a new member but a longtime reader.  I have been making my own bread now for several years.  Only recently have I started being more scientific about my technique and ingredients and this weekend I tried a 75% hydration recipe consisting of the following poolish that I let ferment on my countertop overnight (ended up being exactly 9 hours):

smarkley's picture
smarkley

Heh heh... had a baking weekend, every morning. Friends are wondering if I am OCD now!


 


Started out with a fun Multi Grain Bread... Using Stone Buhr AP and WW flour, toasted sesame, toasted steel cut oats, toasted sunflower seeds, then a menagerie of rolled grains, oats, barley, rye, and wheat! This bread is very good, nutty and with lots of good grain flavors.



and the crumb shot....



 


Then I did some Pain de campagne... 



Finally finished up with 8 baguettes... 4 of them here, the rest were still proofing! Hat tip to SteveB. I used his recipe and method, which is wonderful by the way! Can be seen here at his Breadcetera site:


 http://www.breadcetera.com/?p=8


 



 


Very productive weekend... pass the butter please, and hold the electric bill! 


Steve

kazd's picture

Greetings and a Baguette story

July 31, 2010 - 6:32am -- kazd

Hello all from Perth, Western Australia. Its currently late winter (but we had a balmy 21C here today, that's shortsleeves weather, not sure what is going on, but my bread rose beautifully :-)


I started my recent bread baking fun by visiting my favourite butcher (yes, butcher!) and what do I find in the back of his freezer? A frozen baguette, imported from France, parbaked I presume, with a label "180C for 10 minutes"). Brilliant.


Bought it, cooked it, died and went to heaven.

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