The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


mdunham21's picture

   I’ve been baking bread ever since I stumbled upon my grandfather’s recipe for buttermilk bread.  His bread was a basic loaf but it sparked my love for all things fermentable.  My love grew into brewing my own beer and baking bread was put on hold.  I graduated college in 2010 and finances have become tighter since leaving school.  It is more financially responsible to spend the money on baking bread than brewing suds.  Although I desperately miss the smells that come with brewing a batch of homebrew, the smell of freshly baked bread has been a welcome substitute. 


    Last weekend I made a pate fermentee with the intention of baking baguettes.  I made sure to take a portion of the dough and wrapped it tight for storage in the freezer.  Thursday of this week I was struck with the urge to bake once again and withdrew the pre-ferment from the freezer to the refrigerator.  I mixed up the dough on Friday and went through the motions of fermentation.  The dough was shaped and then prepared to spend the night in the refrigerator.  I wanted to develop a nice flavor profile so I retarded the dough over night and baked them today. 


I will be sure to keep this blog current with my baking adventures; will soon be moving into sourdough. 


Happy baking,




Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I never got around to posting last week, but I did get around to making yet another batch of poolish baguettes.  The only real change was to use King Arthur All-Purpose flour in the final dough (making up 2/3 of the total flour with the Bread Flour in the poolish).  Also, thinking that my lame was getting dull, I tried scoring with the other side of the blade (switching from "Method 1" to "Method 2" as dmsnyder terms them).  I wasn't enturely impressed with the results.

Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


The results were okay--crumb had a nice texture, flavor wasn't bad, crust was well carmelized but kinda chewy.  Bottoms burnt, scores are a mess.  The previous two weeks the results had been so much better.  My fault or the flour?  Probably mine, but I'd had such luck before...

Partly discouraged, partly looking for variety, partly because I've been craving a sourdough baguette for a couple months now, this week (#15 if you're keeping track), I swapped out the poolish for 300g of 100% hydration starter (still used commercial yeast in the final dough though).  The dough wasn't nearly as easy to handle as the standard poolish dough--it was looser, stickier, and gave me grief shaping (somehow I managed to have one end sticking while the other end was over floured and sliding instead of rolling).  I did take steps to prevent burnt bottoms, raising my stone one level in the oven--this seemed to do the trick.

Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


I wouldn't call this a success, per se--the crust and crumb are pretty ugly, no?--but the flavor was very nice, and the crust had a nice texture to it -- chewier than I'd want for a normal poolish baguette, but quite good for a sourdough.

Now here's the question:  I really ought to give the King Arthur AP flour another chance in a normal poolish baguette.  But I think the sourdough version has a lot of potential--if I could get more used to handling this dough, I think I could get something pretty nice here.  Which do I pursue?

(In all likelihood, this will be determined by whether or not I remember to take out and refresh my starter on Wednesday or Thursday next week, mind you.)

Happy baking, everyone.   I got some King Arthur durum flour as a Christmas present and tomorrow I'm baking Pugliese :)

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete

This is a story not about recipies, how good is my loaf, hydration or bakers percentages or any thing to do with my baking ability(or lack of after reading some blogs on TFL....that is a compliment to others that I am in awe of).

I have a lovely natured 11year old King Charles Cavalier Spaniel named Beau. Besides his hobby of wanting always to be with us, sleeping and eating his nose will sometimes get him into trouble as I will explain.

For a long time now I have tried making without great success a baguette. They were only passable but not great. My sandwich loaves and sourdoughs were far more successful. Just before Christmas some one posted the recipe for  Anis Boabsa 2008 winning reciepe for baguettes(I think DMSynder was the contributor). I decided to try again but I was putting myself on trial here this night. We were going to dinner at a friends home where our French Rotary Exchange student from 5 years ago had come back to visit. My wife and I were his legal "guardians" so to speak back then. I thought why not try my baguette on a genuine Frenchman. The only way to find out.

I made 2 loaves using Anis's recipe with cold fermation as stated. The loaves were cooled on a rack and duly individually wrapped in a cotton T.Towel and placed on top of a ground vase about 20 inces high at the front door. The idea being we would not forget them as we walked out.

Now back to Beau the KC Spaniel  of mine whose love of all foods except onions and garlic is legendary. He literally sits on the entrance of our kitchen waiting to prounce on any possible dropping of food. So  Picture this...the old fashion movie or cartoon where the dog is sitting outside the butcher store, the butcher's back is turned and next the dog is running down the street with a trail of long skinny sausuges in his mouth and the butcher chasing him.

Now in real life......I heard a small commotion and the sound of my dogs paws on a hard surface floor running and slipping and generally being quicker than the normal. They are a lazy dog by nature. All I saw was this baguette disappearing around the corner into the TV room floating about 20 inches in the air. About the height of my dog.

So here is Beau, Baguette in tow with one end in his mouth and the other 18 inches floating back down his body scrambling for daylight and his eating mat where nobody touches his food. And me..........I was the above butcher.

Thank heavens I had two French friend thoroughly enjoyed my effort and baguette but was certainly more entertained by the above story as Beau was still a silly young dog when they first met.

Mind you Beau did demolish another exchange students Easter chocolates when she left them on her bed. I'm sure in his previous life Beau was a food critic.......A blessed 2011 to one and all.



davidg618's picture

Inspired by LisaL's question  Baguettes by noon? I baked a sourdough version of my overnight baguette formula for the first time.

Beginning with 25g of 100% hydration seed starter I built 310g of liqud levain over a twenty four hour period, feeding 75g each of AP flour and water at the start, and the same again after twelve hours. I scheduled the build to be ready yesterday at 10am. I wanted to bulk ferment for 24 hours, at 55°F. I had an appointment this morning, otherwise I would have preshaped, this morning at 7 AM, to demonstrate I could have finished baguettes before noon: LisaL's goal.

I mixed the dough (1050 g, 68% hydration, 100% AP flour) at 10:00 yesterday using ice water to immediately chill the dough, autolysed for 1 hour, and did four S&F's at 30 minute intervals. The dough was placed in the retarder--my wine closet--at 55°F immediately after mixing, and returned after each S&F.

I removed the retarded dough at 10:15 AM this morning. It had quadrupled in volume! (Note 1 to myself: Don't ferment for so long, or reduce the levain by half.)

I preshaped 3, 350 g baguettes and let them rest 1 hour at room temperature (We've been having a cold spell here, the room temperature was about 67*). After restiing i shaped them, and placed them in a linen couche. I checked the dough temperature after shaping. It was a chilly 61°F.

The loaves proofed for two hours, I baked them in a preheated oven (500°F), on a baking stone, reducing the oven temperature to 450°F immediately after loading with steam for the first 10 minutes. I finished the bake in another 10 minutes at 450°F with the steam source removed.

I finished at 1:38 PM (including taking the first picture) . Three hours, and 23 minutes. Had I started at 7 AM I would have finished about 10:30 AM. The yeasted version of this dough usually proofs in 1 to 1-1/4 hour.

and the crumb

It's doable, Lisa.

David G

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I'm still at it.  We were at my parents' place on Saturday (Christmas day), and while I did end up baking a batch of Italian bread for Christmas dinner, there were no baguettes.  But we got home Saturday night, and I actually felt in the mood for baguettes.  I made up the poolish, increasing the yeast slightly from last week so it would ripen before late afternoon, and sunday I made yet another batch of the Hamelman Baguettes with Poolish.

While mixing, I realized that last week, and at least one previous week, I'd been adding too much yeast to the final dough--Hamelman says to use .13 oz of instant yeast for a full batch, and last week I definitely used .13 oz in my half batch.  Heaven knows what that's been doing to my baking.  Last week I think it turned out okay (well, better than okay) in part because the poolish was so sluggish.  Anyway, this week I used the correct 0.067 oz yeast (yay for having a scale accurate to the 0.001 oz eh?).

Besides the yeast adjustments, no changes from last week.  I used Cyril Hitz's rolling method for shaping again, but was better at it.





Needless to say, I'm very pleased with these baguettes.  Great caramelization of the crust, decent ears and placement of the scores.  Crust was pleasantly crisp, although not as perfect as last week.  Nice open crumb, with a nice nutty flavor.  Only downsides: a bit flat (and with tight crumb) in between scores, and the bottoms got over-dark (and tasted a little burnt).

I think perhaps I under-proofed as well--there's a little bursting in between the scores on one baguette, and I seem to recall having the bread "bulge" at the scores is another indication of under-proofing. I still have yet to master the "poke" test, it seems.

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Hopefully this isn't seeming too much like a broken record.  This is now my 10th week of baking Hamelman's Baguette's with Poolish.  After my slightly ridiculous post last week, I'll keep it brief.  This week I used my new postal scale to get exactly 0.067% yeast in my poolish (0.1 grams).  I also decreased my preheat temperature slightly to prevent burned bottoms from an overheated stone, and kept a closer watch on final proof, checking every 5 minutes once the baguettes had proofed 55 minutes.

Poolish after 12 hours






Crust could have been darker--I tried baking for an extra couple minutes (28 total) before turning the oven off, to get a more caramelized crust, but I think I just overbaked them.  Crust a little chewy, but not bad.  Crumb decently open, although not consistently throughout the baguette we had with dinner.  Flavor and texture were good, although the outer edges of the crumb seemed dry (hence my suspicion of overbaking).  A little flatter than some weeks--I tried doing just two "over the thumb" folds in the final shaping, and I think that wasn't sufficient surface tension.

Next week, I'm going to try making my oven a little hotter.  My oven seems to bake cooler than it should, and while I've been assuming that a setting of 485F approximated the desired 460F, that may not be the case.  That, and practice, practice, practice at shaping and scoring.

EdTheEngineer's picture

Greetings everyone!

This is my first post, having been lurking here for a few weeks. This is a fabulous website and it has accelerated my learning and increased my enjoyment of my new hobby a great deal. I started baking bread a few months ago as an antidote to revision for my university finals. My initial attempts were flat and dense bricks and puddles, more like squashed soda breads. But since finding this site a few weeks ago I've been inspired to put a bit more energy in and try out some of the techniques I've been reading about and watching on the various youtube videos dotted around.

I thought yesterday that I'd have a first attempt at baguettes, having previously been put off by reading it was difficult to make an actual 'baguette' rather than baguette-shaped sandwich bread. The first hit in the search was the Anis Bouabsa recipe. I wanted to have them ready for this evening's dinner so couldn't quite stick to the method prescribed. My method was:

- Poolish - 250g flour, 2g yeast, @100% hydration. Fridge for 7 hours.

- Allow an hour to warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Fridge for 2 hours then in the pantry (which is about 10 degrees C at the moment) for 5 hours. 

- Pre-shape and rest for 40 mins

- Proof for about 50 mins

I slit and sprayed with water, then put them (on baking paper) on the floor of the Aga, which has had a small pan of water on a higher shelf boiling away for the duration for constant steam. Took about 35 minutes to cook - a bit longer than the recipe says - the floor of the Aga is at a lower temperature than the recipe calls for but my feeling is that having them directly on a nice, big, heavy, high thermal mass aga oven floor is A Good Thing. I don't have a stone slab but I guess putting that higher in the oven would be the better way to do it.

I wasn't expecting much - this was a real step up in shaping complexity (I was guided by the <i>excellent</i> Ciril Hitz videos) and more difficult slashing than my usual cave-man technique. But I was pleasantly surprised by what came out of the oven!

Three Baguettes

You can see my shaping is a bit inconsistant (not to mention wrong in ways that are less immediately obvious to me!) but they just about look the part. They sang and crackled promisingly on the cooling rack and I had to try one before dinner. You know, just to test... it tore just like the baguettes I've had in france and biting in was a lovely crunch followed by tasty chewiness. The crumb was on the right lines, I think:


Baguette Crumb


I'm really quite excited to try this again. Next time I'll plan ahead more thoroughly and give it the 21 hours fridge fermentation that the original recipe calls for. I'll not bother with the poolish stage either (I did it as I thought it might give me the flavours and gluten development a little quicker).

I've been getting quite into using a poolish. I've just come back from a bit of travelling and decided tot to make a sourdough starter until i got back (just so I could be around to care for it) so a poolish seemed like a good stop-gap for getting a bit more flavour out of the flour. For fun, here's a photo of another recent session.

- 1kg of flour (2/3 whole grain 1/3 strong white), 500g of which was in a 100% hydration poolish overnight in the fridge. 

- 20g salt.

- 20g fresh yeast

- teaspoon of dark brown sugar.

Produced a pair of boules, finished in different ways:

Pair of boules

I cut the slashes quite deel on the nearer boule, but the loaf still sprang right up to the point of stretching them out flush with the rest of the crust. Given they have so much spring left to give, should I prove them a bit longer?

Anyway, thanks for reading, now I need to go an feed my new starter!



robadar's picture

Baguette with bulging biceps!

November 27, 2010 - 8:12am -- robadar

My baguette rose nicely in the oven but has bulging biceps, which is to say that expansion was great beneath the slashed areas (three slashes) but tight and unexpanded beneath the unslashed areas.  I'm guessing my problem is that I should have extended each slash farther and overlapped them (?).  I also kept the slashes straight down the center of the loaf rather than diagonally slashing (per advice from Ortiz, "The Village Baker," -- which I am now doubting).

Any thoughts?





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