The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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dmsnyder's picture

Some time ago, Pat (proth5) posted her formula for baguettes. This was in the context of our "great baguette quest" of some months back. We were playing with higher hydration doughs and cold fermentation à la Gosselin and Bouabsa.

Pat's formula is levain-based and employs a 65% hydration dough. She has insisted repeatedly that, while higher hydration is one route to a more open, holey crumb, fermentation and technique in shaping the baguettes are at least as important and that good technique can achieve the desired open crumb even with a dryer dough.

Okay. It was past time I tested my own technique against Pat's claim.

Pat's formula is as follows:

This is for two loaves at a finished weight of 10.5 oz each

.75 oz starter

1.12 oz flour

1.12 oz water 

Mix and let ripen (8-10 hours) 


All of the levain build

10.95 oz all purpose flour

.25 oz salt

6.6 oz water 

Dough temperature 76F 

Mix to shaggy mass (Yes! Put the preferment in the autolyse!) – let rest 30 mins

Fold with plastic scraper  (30 strokes) – repeat 3 more times at 30 min intervals 

Bulk ferment at 76F for 1.5 hours – fold

Bulk ferment at 76F 2 hours

Preshape lightly but firmly, rest 15 mins

Shape.  Proof 1 hour or so


Bake with steam at 500F for about 20 mins


I followed this except I baked at 480F. I used Whole Foods 365 Organic AP flour. The result was an excellent, classic baguette with a crunchy crust and cool, creamy crumb. It was slightly sweet with imperceptible sourness when eaten just ... well, almost ... cooled.

Here's  the crumb:

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Thanks, Pat!


dmsnyder's picture

pain à l'ancienne

Rustic baguettes and ciabatta from Gosselin's formula (as described by Peter Reinhart)


Pain à l'Ancienne baguette crumb

I made these baguettes and ciabatta from the formula Reinhart says he got directly from Phillipe Gosselin. The version in "Bread Baker's Apprentice" is a modification.

This is a very high hydration dough (about 80%), and I made my dough with KAF's "French Style Flour," which is their T55 clone. This is a low-gluten flour, by American standards. The dough started out like a batter once the additional water was added. I mixed it in my Bosch Universal Plus for something like 15 minutes before it was smooth and shiney. It still flowed like a batter. For the next hour, I did Hamelman's folding in the bowl. It then doubled over the next 90 minutes. (This technique was improvised. I thought about chucking the whole project as a lost cause at several points, but I'm glad I didn't. I learned a lot.)

The loaves were divided and stretched onto semolina-dusted parchment. The baguettes were baked without further proofing. The Ciabatti were folded in the usual manner and allowed to rise for about 30 minutes before baking.

Note: No attempt was made to score these loaves.

The baguettes had the sweet taste and cool, silky mouth-feel of ciabatta. I count them a success. Whew!


mcs's picture

Sometimes when you find a recipe, it takes a little adjusting to make it turn out how you would like.  Sometimes after lots of adjusting, you come back to the original recipe and find out it was great how it was.  This is the latter.  If you'd like to find the recipe, and method, both Jane (janedo) and David (dmsnyder), among others, have written about it quite a bit here, and have both had much success with this recipe and variations of it.  Anyway, using that as a baseline, I'll mention the adjustments I made to the method, and/or explain the pics.  Oh, and just as a reference, i made (4) 16 oz baguettes in 24" wide pans.
-pic 1 during the first 60 minutes when it is mixed/folded 3 times, I left it in the mixing bowl for the entire period.  After the initial mix, I scraped the hook and bowl and covered them to rest for 20 minutes.  At 20 minutes, I put the hook back on and let it 'mix' for 5 seconds to allow the machine to do the folding.  I repeated this process for all 3 folds.  I was trying this in an effort to avoid adding any extra flour late 'into the game'.
-pic 2 shows the 4 baguettes after scaling and 23 hours in the fridge
-pic 3 directly after preshaping, they were placed on a canvas, seams up,  for 45 minutes and into the proofer (78 degrees, low humidity)
-pic 4 final shaping them 45 minutes later.  I shape them the same way I shape my loaves with the seam away from me.
-pic 5, 6  To experiment, I final proofed two on a canvas and two directly in the pans.  All 4 were placed in the proofer together and all 4 baked on the baguette pans at 415 for 23 minutes (convection).

-pic 7 The top two rose in the canvas, the bottom two in the pan.  It's hard to tell from the picture, but the bottom two are slightly wider with flatter bottoms, the top two look a little more 'uncontrolled'.  Probably could've used a longer final proof to mellow them out a little more.



Anyways, the flavor is great with these baguettes and they have replaced my previous recipe as 'The Back Home Bakery' baguette.  Thanks to Anis, Jane, and David for making this possible.


Pre Shaping and Final Shaping


localfruitandveg's picture


November 2, 2008 - 7:50pm -- localfruitandveg

I recently made some baguettes, but, like some of the other times I made it, I never really got the large holes that really make baguettes infamous.  The bread tasted amazing, but like the ciabatta, I like it when there are these huge holes that are filling the inside. Any ideas as to how I can better my chances next time?  Is the key to have more moisture in the dough?  Is it just not wet enough? Or am I degassing it too much when I shape it? I'm sick of it turning out like just regular bread.  (small tiny holes)  Any advice would be appreciated.


Thanks everyone!!

dmsnyder's picture









Thesee baguettes are based on the formula given to Janedo by Anis Bouabsa, with Jane's modification - adding 100 gms of sourdough starter to the dough. The formula and method have been described in some detail in my last blog entry:

 If these look substantially similar to those pictured in that entry, they are. My point is that this formula appears to be reliable and is yielding consistant and gratifying results for me.

 That said, this batch was superior to the last in a some respects: First, the crumb is even more open. Second, the flavor is much better. It is very mildly sour but also sweeter. Third, the crumb has a chewier texture. Fourth, the shape of the cross section is more round. Fifth, my scoring was more consistant.

I did make a few modifications in ingredients and method. While these may seem trivial, I believe those of us who have participated in "The Great Baguette Quest" have found that these sorts of small differences make the difference between "good" and "great" results.

So, my modifications from the previous baguette bake were:

1. My starter was more fully activated when I mixed the dough.

2. I included the starter in addition to the flour and water to the initial mix that autolysed.

3. I got distracted and forgot to add the yeast and salt until the last set of stretch and folds. In other words, shortly before putting the dough in the refrigerator. The gluten tightened up dramatically and quickly after the salt was added, but it was pretty fully developed already. (This is not recommended, and I'm not sure what if any difference it made in the final product.) Because I wanted to be sure the yeast and salt were well distributed, I ended up doing more folds - probably 15-20 more, and this probably resulted in fuller gluten development which may have contributed to the open crumb.

4. Following foolishpoolish's lead, I rested the dough only about 30 minutes after dividing and pre-shaping, and I proofed for only 30 minutes. (Bouabsa rests 45 minutes and proofs for 60 minutes.)

I am not much of a baguette fan, generally speaking, but this batch was good enough to motivate further baguette adventures.


dmsnyder's picture

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdoug

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb

Anis Bouabsa baguettes with Sourdough Crumb 

KAF French Style Flour........500 gms

Water..............................370 gms

Starter.............................100 gms

Salt..................................10 gms

Instant yeast.......................1/4 tsp


I activated my starter and let it ferment for only about 4 hours. It did double but was not at its peak. While the starter was noshing, I mixed the flour and water and let it autolyse for about 40 minutes. Then I added the starter, yeast and salt and mixed well in a bowl.

I used Pat's (proth5) method of mixing: In the bowl, stretch and fold using a plastic dough scraper 20 times, rotating the bowl 1/5 turn between each stroke. Repeat this every 20 minutes for an hour. At the end of that time, I had the best window pane I've every achieved. This is a great technique for somewhat slack doughs!

I then moved the dough to a 2 liter glass measuring pitcher with a tight fitting cover and refrigerated for 20 hours.

 The dough was then emptied onto a large wooden cutting board, well dusted with flour and divided into 3 sort of equal parts. It was less slack than my last batch and easier to shape. I gently preshaped into rounds and rested the pieces, covered with plastic wrap and a towel for 20 minutes. I then shaped into baguettes very, very gently so as to minimize bubble popping. The loaves were proofed for 1 hour on a parchment paper "couche."

 I had preheated the oven to 500F. I scored the baguettes. After loading the loaves onto my pizza stone and pouring hot water in a heated skillet, the oven was turned down to 460F on convection bake. After 10 minutes, I removed the skillet and turned the oven up to 480F, regular bake. I baked the baguettes for 25 minutes total. 


The loaves "sang" louder and longer than any I've baked. The crust was nice and crunchy. The crumb was the most open I've yet achieved in baguettes. I attribute this in large part to my shaping the baguettes more gently then ever before. I credit Janedo for the inspiration (as well as for the recipe).

I still need to work on scoring baguettes. *sigh*



dmsnyder's picture

SF Sourdough Baguettes 6-29-08

SF Sourdough Baguettes 6-29-08

SF Sourdough Baguettes Crumb 6-29-08

SF Sourdough Baguettes Crumb 6-29-08

These baguettes were made with the formula for San Francisco Sourdough from Peter Reinhart's "Crust&Crumb." The firm starter was made with a mixture of Guisto's Organic (whole) Rye and King Arthur Bread Flour. The final dough was made with King Arthur European Artisan Flour.

The recipe makes 4-1/2 pounds of dough. I made two 1.5 lb. boules and these two baguettes. The dough was on the dry side, although I added about 1/4 cup of water during mixing. I cold retarded the formed loaves for about 18 hours. The baguettes were baked with steam for the first 10 minutes, then dry for another 15 minutes. The crust is crunchy, thicker than a traditional baguette. The crumb is less open than I wanted. The taste is typical of breads made with this dough - moderately sour and complex.

A word about the scoring, since that has been a source of frustration for me: These results are as good as I have ever obtained. I think the factors that contributed to it were 1) The dryer dough is easier to slash, 2) I was careful not to over-proof. They were baked 2 hours after being taken out of the refrigerator, 3) I consciously attempted to implement what Proth5 calls "Mental mis en place." I take this to mean clearing your mind of any other thoughts, then reviewing the procedure elements and visualizing the procedure before starting to slash, then executing the slashes quickly and smoothly according to the chosen procedure. I did not achieve perfection, but I feel I have progressed. What's needed is practice, practice, practice.

Here is one of the boules made with the same batch of dough:

SF Sourdough Boule 6-29-08

SF Sourdough Boule 6-29-08



dmsnyder's picture

Rustic Baguettes made with Nury Light Rye dough

Rustic Baguettes made with Nury Light Rye dough

Rustic Baguettes Crumb made with Nury Light Rye dough

Rustic Baguettes Crumb made with Nury Light Rye dough 


As promised, I made some baguettes using Nury's Light Rye dough from Daniel Leader's "Local Breads." I followed Leader's recipe except for using a couple tablespoons less water, thinking it might work better for baguettes. In hindsight, I don't think this improved the product.

For those not familiar with the recipe, it is documented in Zolablue's original posting of her baking of this bread.’s-rustic-light-rye-leader

This was an excellent thread. It led me to make this bread myself for the first time, and it remains one of my very favorites.

Leader's recipe calls for patting out the mass of fermented dough into a 10 x 10 inch rectangle, cutting it in half with a bench knife and gently transferring the cut pieces to floured parchment, then immediately baking it on a stone with steam. For these "baguettes," I simply sliced off 3 portions, about 2.5 cm wide each, and stretched them gently to 12 inches as I laid them on the parchment. I baked with steam at 500F for 10 minutes, then removed the skillet and loaf pan with the water and turned down the oven to 440F. The bake time was 17-20 minutes, total.

The baguettes are beautiful, in a very rustic way. The crust was very nicely crunchy, and the crumb was chewy. The taste was wonderful, as it always is with this recipe. The main difference between these baguettes and the "proper" Nury Light Rye is that the baguettes have proportionally much more crust, and the crust stays crisp rather than softening.

 My efforts to make traditional baguettes will continue, but this version is one I'll be making again. 




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