The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baguette

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!)

 

 

turosdolci's picture
turosdolci

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.

 

http://turosdolci.wordpress.com

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
wally

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.

Larry

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).

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