The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


turosdolci's picture

For those who might be interested.

I have posted an article on NowPublic about the award given for the best baguette in Paris. You can link to it from my blog. The name and address of the baker can be found on my blog and in the article.

jennyloh's picture

Help with Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette

May 1, 2010 - 9:50pm -- jennyloh

I've been trying this for the last 2 days.  The only thing I can do with this,  is to make it into at best a ciabatta type - too soft, and difficult to hold together dough. 

1st try - using the home formula, I divide by 3 to get the measurement,  as i didn't want to make too much.  Well,  after the 1st rise,  the dough was sticky and there was no way I could hold it together.  It just slumps down every time I try pulling it together.  So,  I thought perhaps I got my water and bread mixture all wrong.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

They just didn't want to be baguettes!

I took the recipe under Metric and divided by 20 to use 500g total flour in the recipe.  I did make some changes... I added an egg white into the water to total 165g in the final dough.  I used 1/2 tsp of yeast in the final dough.  This gave me longer fermentation.  I also hand mixed the dough.

Poolish Baguettes, page 101, Hamelman's "BREAD" with barely a pinch of yeast and using 9% protein white unbleached wheat flour to sit 12 hours at 23°C (74°F).

Mixed the dough with water (22g egg white "small egg" and 143g water) whipped with a fork  then added to the poolish along with salt 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast and 12% protein unbleached wheat bread flour.  Let stand one hour and folded the dough.  Did two more folds with 2 hours between for a 5 hour bulk rise.  Cut off 8 rolls at 100g each and one at 85g.  Let rise under cover and kept moist with water to rise about 45 min to an hour.  When somewhat risen, I sprinkled with sesame seeds and made 5 point star scissor cuts not connecting the cuts.

Then quickly into the hot steamy oven 240° rotated with steam release after 10 minutes.  Baked for another 10 minutes.  Then the second tray got sprinkled and scored hot on the trail of the first tray. 


They made it to the dinner table.  Crispy crusts and tender insides, still warm.

Mini Oven




wally's picture

I love baguettes. I love them for the challenge but even more for the complexity of flavor that can be developed. My two favorites are Hamelman's poolish baguette and Sam Fromartz's Parisian baguette that gains so much from the addition of just a small amount of whole wheat flour and sourdough.

So having drooled over first DonD's blog on his attempt to marry his two personal favorites, and then having to tie a bib around my neck after reading (and seeing!) David's attempt at Don's baguettes, there was no drool left in me and nothing to do but try these to see what they would deliver in taste.

I ended up doing two bakes over the course of a week. I wasn't quite satisfied with the results of the first (I'll get to that), so I tweaked things a bit and ... well, we'll get to that also.

The formula:

AP Flour 450g
Medium rye 50g
Water 375g
Yeast 3.5g instant dry
Salt 9g

On my first bake, during the final dough mix I went for a slightly longer mixing period - 4 minutes on speed 1 and another 5 minutes on speed 2 (my little Hamilton Beach would have to work a very long time to overmix dough). I also opted to do 3 folds at 45 minute intervals during the 3 hour bulk fermentation, having read David's account of the amount of rise he got during the overnight retardation.

The results were ok, I think the crumb was relatively open and my cuts opened enough to allow additional rise.

But for my taste I thought the flavor showed a little too much of the rye. In any event, two baguettes can be consumed quickly, so I had sufficient reason to repeat the experiment with a few changes.

In bake #2 I made two changes to the formula - one intentionally and one, well, not, along with one procedural change. I reduced the percentage of rye to 6%, so in my case that meant adding only 30g of rye instead of the 50g called for. However, in my enthusiasm, I neglected to increase my AP (Sir Galahad) by 20g. This I realized, of course, after I had mixed the dough and autolysed it in the refrigerator.

Ok, so now I'm working with a 78% hydrated dough which would normally cause me to break out in a cold sweat; however, one of the beautiful aspects of this bread is that because the dough is shaped after an overnight retardation, it is much, much easier to handle and score than a 78% hydration dough mixed, proofed and shaped at room temperature. (Frankly, I'm not sure I'd even attempt to score such a highly hydrated dough under normal circumstances).

Procedurally, I decided to do my initial mix in the morning. I then autolysed the dough for 6 hours in the refrigerator instead of overnight. (Hey, one person's overnight might be only 6 hours, who's to say?). This allowed me to do the final dough mix in late afternoon, and to put the finished dough to bed for the night just ahead of me.

Next morning I divided the dough, bench rested for an hour, shaped and did final proofing for 45 minutes, and the finished product was out of the oven by 10:30am - a little more than 24 hours from the initial dough mix.

Anyhow, here are the results of bake #2. 


         I'm more pleased with the second bake, both in terms of appearance and flavor. The rye still comes through, but it is not quite as pronounced. Interestingly, the second bake tasted sweeter to me than the first, although both bakes came out well caramelized. So, bottom line, good taste, good crunch, good crumb!

And I now have three favorite baguettes thanks to dmsnyder à la DonD.


Edit: (Tip o' the hat to Andy) - I forgot to mention that I withheld 50g of water from the autolyse which I then incorporated along with the salt and yeast during the final dough mix the next day.  DonD and ananda had a long discussion about this technique which can be found here.  The cold dough (which has developed some gluten structure) does not easily accept additional water, but in the 4 minutes I mixed on speed 1 it pretty well incorporated it).

copyu's picture

Ancient baguette discussion

April 18, 2010 - 5:52am -- copyu

Hi all,

I was searching the 'net for possible tips on re-creating Boulangier Paul's "flute ancienne" and came across this rather old, but interesting, bulletin-board/blog/discussion. There are some really good posts, there.

Someone asked the question: "Why are French baguettes better than others?" There were some interesting answers. This may be useful to bakers around this neighbourhood. No questions from me, for a change...just posted FYI...

ehanner's picture

Intrigued by the beautiful Baguette's that Sam Fromartz has been baking, I continue to plod along, improving my skills at baking this simple(?) bread. The original post on his blog can be found here.

I'm actually trying to see if I can taste and see an improvement in the bread when using some original French T55 flour sent to me by a very kind friend a while back. This is Organic T55 from Biocoop and reported to be very good flour. My new go to AP flour is from Dakota Maid. I like the colors I get and the flavors of the grain. After the side by side with the T55, I'm wondering about the amount of malted barley they add. The crust seems to color much more quickly. I used the same formula and method for both flours to arrive at these results. Both breads were flavorful and exhibited good qualities. Not the same but both very good.



T55 Baguette has a nice lighter golden color. The flavor didn't suffer in comparison to the DM flour which was much darker from the same bake time.

Crust detail on the T55. You can see the more golden color, even through the heavy handed additional flour I dusted over the dough prior to baking.

This is the Dakota Maid crumb. Very translucent and a nice crisp crust.

ilan's picture


Baguette is one of my favorite breads. For long sandwiches, with a full meal or just eat fresh with butter. One of the things I like about the Baguettes that I buy from the market is the very crisp crust and a very soft interior. It cannot be eaten without making a mess. But in this case, I really don’t care.

So, in the past, I made long roles using the same dough I used for bread: 3 cups of flour, 1.5 cups of liquid (2/3 parts milk), 1.5-2 teaspoons of yeasts, 1 teaspoon of salt 1 teaspoon of sugar, mix, kneed, rise, shape and bake. It was very good as roles, but the crust was different – softer. This is not a Baguette... but it took it as a a base for my experiments (a mistake, but i learned a lot back then)

I converted all the milk from the recipe to water and tried again. The crust was harder but I could not get the desired crunch.

Next I added steam in the first 10 minutes. Got a good progress with the crunch but something was missing.

Added more water - got a very soft interior with bigger holes. Still not what I looked for. 

So, I did some reading and came up to French dough recipe. Of course, how it eluded me… French bread is done with French dough, duh.

There I came across the preferment for the first time. The recipe I found included total of 3 1/4 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of water (now it looks too dry) and of course, no sugar.

It goes like this:

Preferment (15 hours in advance)

-       1 cups flour

-       2/3 cups of water

-       1/3 teaspoon yeast

The Dough:

-       2 1/4 cups flour

-       1 3/4 teaspoon yeast

-       3/4 cup of water

-       1 ¾ teaspoon of salt


After mixing the preferment with the rest of the ingredients and receiving a unified mass, i let it rest for 20 minutes, then kneaded it for about 10 minutes more. I let it rise for another 90 minutes, shaped it and let it rise for another 70 minutes before baking

I placed a pot of boiling water in the oven and let it continue to boil there before I entered the Baguettes inside and removed it 10 minutes after.

I admit, I didn’t fold the dough, it was not sticky so I skipped it. The dough itself was more slick then I was used to and stickier even though the amount of water was lower. 

Here are the results:


It was excellent, and all 3 got eaten the very day with help of my wife's sister and her boyfriend which is good sign for a baker/cook that he is doing something right.

After reading the tips for better French bread, I think I will try another batch (or 10) of these. I love the tenth tip - Practice!, and what comes after :)


Until the next post


wally's picture

It's not often that someone can lay claim to producing the best baguettes in a city, but in Washington, DC Sam Fromartz has done so, thanks to a competition sponsored by a local publication - the Washington City Paper

The competition, held in 2009, challenged metro-area bakeries to submit baguettes which were then blind tasted by a panel of experts, including Mark Furstenberg, who introduced artisan bread baking to DC.  What the experts didn't know was that Fromartz, a writer by trade but a bread enthusiast, had submitted his own home-baked baguettes as well.  When the dust settled, the judges had awarded perfect scores to the two loaves baked by Fromartz.

The story is fascinating, and you can read the City Paper article here:

But the baguettes are fascinating as well!  I've baked them on numerous occasions and they produce a delightful flavor and crust.  For those who want Fromartz's recipe from the horse's mouth, it can be found here:

Sam Fromartz's Parisian Baguette Recipe

The following will produce two 16" baguettes weighing in at around 280g apiece.

Ingredient                                              Weight            Bakers %

AP flour (I use KA's Sir Galahad)              295g               95

Whole wheat flour                                          5g                 5

Water                                                           210g                70

Starter (100% hydration)                             45g                15

Salt                                                                6.5g                 2

Instant dry yeast                                           1 tsp                .9 (may be reduced in summer or warmer environment)

The mix - Desired Dough Temp = 76°-78°

Day 1: Begin by adding the starter and water and mixing to break up the starter.  Fromartz adds his yeast as well, but because I use instant dry I instead mix it into the flour.  To the liquid mixture add the flour and salt.  Fromartz mixes by hand and uses the slap-and-fold technique to knead.  I initially followed this method, but my last bake produced great results using my stand mixer and left me with clean hands to boot!  (I mixed 4 minutes on speed 1 and 4 minutes on speed 2, which produces a dough with moderate gluten development).

Place the dough into a lightly oiled container and cover.  It then receives 3 folds at 20 minute intervals.  After the final fold, place again in covered container and retard overnight in the refrigerator.

Day 2: Preheat oven to 470°.  Remove dough from the refrigerator. Fromartz immediately divides and pre-shapes, but I allow the dough to sit for about 1 hour before dividing.  After dividing and pre-shaping I let the two pieces of dough bench rest for about 30 minutes before shaping into two 16" baguettes.  I couched them, seam side up, for an hour, before placing them on a parchment-covered peel and scoring them. 

I pre-steamed my gas oven with about 1/4 cup of water, and then immediately after placing the baguettes on my baking stone I carefully added 3/4 cup of water to lava rocks that I have piled up in a cast iron skillet at the bottom of my oven.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  Because of the overnight retardation, these have a rich crust with almost a reddish coloration.

The flavor of these is truly wonderful.  The small addition of whole wheat flour and sourdough gives them a nuttiness that I've only found in poolish baguettes.

I was pleased with my slashes (despite the problems gas ovens create by venting steam), and the crumb was the most open I've achieved with his recipe.

So - want to enter your own competition with Sam Fromartz - then give his award-winning recipe a shot!


Edit: Oops!  Don't know where my head was when calculating bakers percentage, but AP is 98% and whole wheat is 2%.

jennyloh's picture

Every end of the week,  I'm so looking forward to my baking.  I think it has become an obsession.
Baguette on Friday night, with my old dough from the 5 minutes fresh baked bread.  I forgot to add yeast and salt to the dough, but it worked as well, as I had put aside for slow retard rise.  
I think at least I got the scoring right this time.  Better than most other times. Click here for details.

Ciabatta on Saturday morning.
Woke up this morning, thinking about my Ciabatta dough waiting for me.  I was excited to see how it turns out.  Lovely crumbs,  soft on the inside,  crispy on the outside.  Click here to see details.

Well,  I'm going to make chicken sandwich for lunch this afternoon.


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