The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

baguettes

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Pat, who has is enduring earthquakes, tsunami warnings and, worst of all, no access to bread baking this week shared with us the thought that having some bread to critique might lift her spirits. What better bread than that made from her own baguette formula?


In anticipation of Pat's need, I baked a couple baguettes this afternoon. For the formula, see Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough. I used some leftover levain with the G. Rubaud flour mix to seed the levain. The rest of the flour was KAF European Artisan-Style flour. This is a supposedly the same protein content as KAF AP flour, but it always seems to absorb a bit more water than AP. I didn't add any extra water, so the dough was quite dry - not even tacky after a couple stretch and folds in the bowl.


So, Pat, have at it.



The baguettes



Grigne



Crumb


The crust was deliciously crunchy and sweet from the caramelization of a bold bake. The crumb was chewy with a nice, baguette flavor, but the taste of the tiny fraction of whole wheat flour used in the levain was discernible. It seemed a bit "out of place." However, this didn't stop me from consuming half a baguette with dinner.


David

davidg618's picture
davidg618

I finally invested in a new baking stone, one that fills an oven shelf with only a couple of inches to spare. Now I can make baguettes that approach 18" to 20" in place of the stubby ones I baked before. Consequently, along with sourdough, sticky buns, foccacia, and getting familiar with spelt, I've been baking my own baguette formula that has borrowed heavily from Anis Bouabsa's formula and especially his process, and, in the most recent batch, Peter Reinhart's pain a' l'ancienne procedures. I've made this formula three times, tweaking a little each time, not the ingredients, the procedures. I've nicknamed them "Overnight Baguettes.


Formula for 1000 g finished dough


              All purpose flour    575g    100%


              Water                   414g      72%


              Salt                        12g        2%


              Instant Yeast         1/4 tsp.   ???


I mix all the dry ingredients together in a wide bowl, and add the water. Using a plastic dough scraper I incorporate the water into the dry mix, cover and rest it for one-half hour.I turn the dough out onto a very lightly dusted board and French fold until dough passes the window pane test. Chill (details follow: I tweaked here.). Remove from chiller. Bring to room temperature (details follow: tweak #2). Preshape, rest, shape, and final proof. Preheat oven to 500°F. Pre-steam oven. Load slashed loaves reduce temperature to 450°F immediately. After ten minutes remove steam source (if you can do it safely), vent oven and finish baking.


I did all my mixing with ingredients at room temperature (low seventies-ish) for the first two batches. For the first batch, ala Bouabsa, I left the dough in the refrigerator 21 hours @ 38°F. For the second batch I placed it in our wine closet @ 55°F for seventeen hours. For both batches I did two stretch-and-folds after the first 50 and 100 minutes. These two S&F's leave the dough very elastic and smooth (I think it feels "silky").


In both cases, after I turned out the chilled dough (again, following Bouabsa) I immediately divided the dough into three equal amounts, preshaped, and let the dough rest for one hour.


The first batch's dough increased about one-and-a-half its original volume in the refrigerator. Despite dividing and resting the dough was still chilled when I final-shaped it, and final proofing took two hours and fifeteen minutes.


The second batch's volume tripled in the wine closet (I worried about losing any chance of oven-spring). The dough was particulary puffy after resting an hour (more oven-spring worry). Final proofing took 90 mins. My worries were dispelled in the first ten minutes in the oven. Both batches exhibited good oven-spring, but the flavor of batch #1 was distinctly more bland then batch #2. The crumb of both batches was open, light, and slighty chewy.


I was generally happy with both batches, but the second batch's flavor won out. Whatever flavoring chemistry goes on in retarded dough appeared to work harder at the wine closet's elevated temperature.


Despite the oven-spring experienced in batch #2, I was still worried I was setting myself up for future failures letting the dough triple in volume during its retarded proof at 55°F. I recently broke down and bought Peter Reinhart's  "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". His anecdote about capturing the hearts and minds of his more reluctant students when they are first introduced to pain a' l'acienne dough pushed me to skip to its formula. I was intrigued by his "shock retardation" using ice water to mix the dough.


I mixed the third batch's dough with ice water, and also placed it in the wine closet during its autolyse rest. I checked the dough a couple of times after performing the two S&F, and was a little worried by almost no apparent action. Encouraged by the few little bubbles I could see through the bottom of the plastic container I went to bed, but set the alarm to remove the dough after fifeteen hours chilling. The dough was just short of doubled when removed.  Following Reinhart's directions I let the dough sit, undivided at room temperature (high sixties-ish) for two hours. When I got out of bed the second time the dough was well doubled and the top of the dough was stretched in a couple of places by large gas bubbles. I liked what I saw, and felt.


I divided the dough, preshaped, and let it rest twenty minutes. Following, I shaped, and final-proofed for ninety minutes (I use a poke test to decide proofing status, but I keep track of time too.) Baking proceeded as described above.


The results:



We are delighted with the flavor, and crumb! This is going to be our "go to" baguettes: no more tweaking. 


David G


 


 


 

sergio83's picture
sergio83

So I think I finally figured out how this thing works... well, well enough to put up some pictures and some text around them-- this is how my 66% hydration (3 1/3 cups of bread flour and 2 1/3 cups of water?) came out.



The fork is to show how runny the dough-batter is.  I kneaded for about an hour-- though i could have stopped after 45 minutes, and I think this is what I ended up with (I took the pictures a while ago so I'm not really sure)



Okay now I get it, that was when I started to get tired of kneading.  After an hour, it looked like this:


hmmm... yeah, i'm such a mess, all my pictures are a mess i'm not sure what's from what-- anyway, i'll get to the good part--


so i baked the bread and this came out:




A sad flat little spaceship of a baguette... pitiful, oh pitiful, feel so sorry for me, as aretha would say.  And then:



MY BEST CRUMB EVER!!!!! It's not the best thing I've seen on this site, but it's the best i've managed to do!



and of course



Proving, to me at least, that it's what's on the inside that counts :)

jgrill's picture
jgrill

Today I baked KAF baguettes, but I used KAF unbleached bread flour instead of all purpose flour as called for in the formula. It's a simple formula for four loaves—34 oz. warm water, 24 oz. flour, 1T salt, 1 T instant yeast (I used SAF Instant). Mix, knead for just a few minutes (4 by hand, 2 by machine), and let ferment at room temp in a covered container for 2 hours, then into the fridge overnight. The dough can stay in the fridge for several days, and you can bake a loaf at a time, over that period, but I divided it and made four loaves for one baking. 


Because the dough was cold when I divided it and pre-shaped into an oval/rectangle, and let it rest for 15 minutes covered with oiled waxed paper, and still pretty cold when I shaped it into baguettes, I put the pans into my upper oven, covered with the same oiled paper, and set the oven to the "proof" setting for the hour and a half proofing. 


I still have a problem getting the scoring right, and so I scored two loaves before proofing, and two, right before going into a 450° oven. Neither version looked great, but the traditional scoring did look better than my experimental version when the baguettes came out of the oven.


I forgot to spritz the loaves with warm water right before baking, but a 30 minute bake with one rotation at 15 minutes resulted in a nice crust, and a pretty good crumb. Nice flavor, too, comparable to some of my better attempts.

ejm's picture
ejm

bread

I'm really excited about this crusty loaf that I had formed into a ring. The bread turned out fabulously. I used a relatively new way of shaping that I learned from watching this YouTube video and then left the shaped bread in the fridge overnight and baked it the next morning. The crust is even more caramelized and crispy and the crumb has a wonderful nutty flavour.


We served this bread for a recent festive dinner with an appetizer of Moules Marinière (mussels poached in white wine, butter, onions, garlic and parsley)



We loved the Mussels so much that we think we'll serve them (with more of this bread) for Christmas Eve dinner. And maybe again on New Year's Even dinner too....


-Elizabeth


**************************************************

Please take a look at my annual Advent calendar (but don’t even THINK about peeking ahead).



 


(edit: ooops, I forgot to sign my name)


 

DonD's picture
DonD

Background:


A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were down in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for our annual fall pilgrimage to Hatteras Village for a week of relaxation, fishing, oystering and clamming. As usual, we were joined by a couple of dear friends who are also lovers of good food and wine. We always bring everything but the kitchen sink down there so that we can all take turns cooking fantastic seafood meals to go with the several cases of wines that made the trip with us. The problem is that we cannot find good bread down there so this year, I decided to bring the most essential of ingredients and utensils so that I can bake some French Baguettes. Also my friend Barbara, ever since tasting my Baguettes had repeatedly asked me to give her a tutorial on how to make them. Because of our busy play schedule during the day, I thought that the Anis Bouabsa formula would be perfect because aside from being a great recipe, it allows me to spend 3 hours each evening over 2 days and we would have fresh Baguettes for dinner.


Baguette 101:


So with Barbara as my Assistant Baker and with a lot of trepidation, I proceeded to show her step by step how to weigh and mix the ingredients, to master the art of the Autolyse, the Stretch and Fold, the Cold Retardation, the Shaping and Scoring and finally the Baking with Steam. Trouble was I was not armed with my usual battery of utensils that I normally use in my baking. No Mixer, no Thermometer, no Couche, no Baking Stone, no Lame, no Calibrated Oven, no Water Spritzer Bottle, no Cast Iron Skillet, no Lava Rocks. Was I doomed for failure?


Au Contraire, Mon Frere! As I proceeded with mixing and working the dough by hand, it developed beautifully and after the cold retardation, I shaped the loaves and proofed them on a perforated baguette pan I brought along that I used  to bake with in my pre-TFL days. I used a plain double edged razor blade to score the loaves. I put a broiler pan in the old electric oven and poured in 1 cup of hot water for steam. The baguettes rose fine, the ears opened up nicely, the crust was crackly, the crumb was open and soft and best of all the taste was fantastic, as good as any I have baked under more ideal conditions. We greatly enjoyed the Baguettes with our Japanese style Bouillabaisse.


 No Frills Baguettes


 Roughing it Crumb


Conclusion:


I think that sometimes we are too dependent on non-essential gadgets. It goes to show that we can make great bread with good ingredients, our hands and the most rudimentary utensils.


Epilogue:


My friend Barbara was so excited about the results that once she got home, she decided to make a batch of baguettes on her own and she sent me these photos.


 Barbara's Outstanding Baguettes


 Barbara's Amazing Baguette Crumb


I would say that she graduated from Baguette 101 Magna Cum Laude!


Don


 

chouette22's picture
chouette22

Last weekend, I wanted to get my baguette experiments on the way, and used one of David’s (dmsnyder) comments and his wonderful posts (how fantastic to be able to benefit from them and the ensuing comments of the members here) as a starting point. My goal eventually is to try all of his three favorites, the one by Samuel Fromartz and any other styles that catch my attention, to see which one I might favor in the end.


 


This past Saturday I made Pat’s baguettes (proth5) using David's recipe, shaping one into the classic form and the other one into an épi one.


      


 


Then on Sunday I attempted Philippe Gosselin’s baguettes, again following David's footsteps, and again making two épi shapes, since we like the crust and crunch so much. I baked them quite a bit longer than what the recipe suggested, but couldn't get a darker color. 



We liked all of them, the tastes were wonderful, but for some reason I didn’t get too much oven spring in either of them. I’ll have to keep trying. Gosselin’s needed a lot less attention I found. Either bake disappeared on the same day…


I also made a big Zopf, this time after my compatriot Thomas’ recipe:



It came out very well, but I guess I cannot really compare it with my age-old recipe, since I tested a new flour that I recently bought at Costco: The Eagle Mills AP unbleached blend of white and ultragrain flours, as the label states, 20lbs for $5.68, can't beat that!


If you are interested, you can see the nutritional profile here. Its protein content per 100g is 13.7, fiber 12.2, and ash 1.6. They are selling it as AP flour and I am checking if I can really use it as such. Since it has quite a percentage of whole wheat in it, and I often mix my AP with whole wheat anyway, this could be quite convenient.


For a Zopf however, one typically uses only white flour. My daughter was suspicious right away when she saw it, since the appearance was a bit less white (or light yellow) than what she is used to see in a Zopf. She often suspects that I smuggle “healthy” things into her food, when she prefers bread and pasta, for example, to be as white as possible. Some weeks ago I made a Chocolate-Zucchini-Bread, and she loved it, thinking it was a chocolate cake. Later I made the mistake (I thought she was old enough now – 12y) of telling her that it actually was Zucchini Bread – she had no more of it!...




 

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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