The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

poolish baguettes

Sylviambt's picture

Thanks to all for advise. Next time round will

  • Fold twice instead just once
  • Will substitute one cup of bread flour with AP
Again, the recipe I used is from Jeffrey Hamelman's Bread book.
Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I didn't get around to posting yesterday, but I made my 5th weekly batch of Hamelman's baguette's with Poolish.

I had a whole story about what I changed from last week and why, but accidentally hit reload and lost it all.  So I'll be brief.  The changes this week:

I forgot to turn the oven on when I meant to and did a final proof of 75 minutes instead of 60, while raised the preheat temperature to 550 for only 30 minutes to compensate for the stone being cold.

The Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


I had a lot less luck with scoring this week--the lame kept dragging rather than cutting cleanly.  I'm not sure if this was from proofing longer--I also didn't cover the baguettes as thoroughly with the folds of my make-shift couche as I have been doing.  Crumb is clearly pretty tight, which is probably my fault; I still need more practice at being sufficiently gentle with these baguettes (or could that be over-proofing too?).  That said, the crumb had a nicer texture to it than I've been getting, and better flavor as well.  The crust was great--crisp all around, and just a little chewy.  A little over-dark on the bottom on account of overheating the stone, but even that wasn't too bad.  If I never get my crust any better, I think I could live with that.

I'm really not sure if this week's batch  was overproofed, or if other problems led to my scoring and crumb issues.  I'm going to stick with the 75 minute proof and see what happens if I do everything else right.  So my plan for next week is to change nothing except a) Be even more gentle when shaping, and b) be more careful about covering the baguettes while proofing.  I'll see how it goes.

Happy baking, everyone.



rockcreek's picture

Bake-Ahead Baguettes

October 21, 2010 - 8:01am -- rockcreek

Hi everybody: first time posting here, so I hope I'm putting this in the appropriate forum. I'm trying to make a lot of BBA poolish baguettes for a Saturday morning bake sale, and as much as I'd philosophically like to stay up all night Friday baking, that's not happening. Can anyone suggest what I can do tomorrow to help preserve as much freshness and flavor as I can until Saturday morning?

80% bake? Oven refresh on Saturday morning? (I will be getting up early on Saturday, so I'll have some to get the oven going.)

Thanks in advance!

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

In this third installment of my weekly attempts to bake a passable baguette, conflict, drama, and a rather too hot oven arise.

Where we last left our heroes:

My weekly goal is to master (sort of) Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish. Last week's baguette possessed only a so-so flavor and texture, a crumb that was somewhat too tight, crust that was a tad chewy, and irregular scoring.  This week I added a few modifications:

  1. I fermented the poolish for only 9 hours instead of 12.  I'm making only a half batch compared to Hamelman's Home measurements, and it stood to reason that if 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in ~21 oz of poolish is ready in 12 hours, the same yeast in half the poolish would take less time
  2. By accident, I left the oven temperature at 535 degrees (probably more like 515 measured by a more reasonable oven than mine) for the first 6 minutes of the bake.
  3. After the baguettes had finished baking, I turned off the oven, propped the door open, and left them in for another 5 minutes, in hopes of a crisper crust.

The Results: External Shots


As you can see, the crumb was relatively tight, and the scores very shallow, and so in that respect this batch was pretty disappointing.  On the other hand, at least the slashes were a little more consistent?  However, the flavor was somewhat better, and although the crumb lacked big open holes, it had a creamier texture than past weeks.  The crust was also nicer--although a little chewy on the bottom, the rest was thin and crispy.

As for why this happened, I have a few thoughts, although if anyone else has some I'd love to hear it.  I think the poolish is still over-fermenting.  Although it wasn't as bad, I could still smell the alcohol, which isn't a good sign.  I can't reasonably let a poolish sit overnight for much less than 9 hours, so I'll have to either cut the yeast (tricky when I'm starting from 1/8 tsp), or make extra poolish and throw some away.  I also think that goofing up the oven temperature may have hampered the ability of the cuts to open, although I think primarily I just didn't slash deeply enough.  I also wonder if I might be degassng too much when I shape the baguettes.

I think next week I'm not going to vary anything except to change the yeast proportion in the poolish, and skip the goof on the oven temperature.  If I still get a tight crumb, then I'll examine other factors.


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:


  • 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!


  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.

KitchenCrazed's picture

Baguettes for breakfast

January 20, 2010 - 9:06am -- KitchenCrazed

I recently got Peter Reinhart's Crust and Crumb and as always have thoroughly enjoyed reading his relaxed and expert advice on baking all types of bread.

My wife loves good bread and jam for breakfast so I thought I would make some baguettes using the French Bread master formula from the book that we could have for breakfast a few days ago.

It was the first time I had cold retarded dough and won't be looking back. In terms of the quality of the crumb and the chewy crunchiness of the crust these are definitely my best baguettes so far.

DonD's picture

I have read a lot of press about a special baguette called "La Flute Gana" made by Bernard Ganachaud, one of the pioneers of the artisanal bread revival in France during the late 70's. I have tried to follow different interpretations of Ganachaud's recipe available in some  bread books without much success so I decided to experiment and develop my own interpretation of "La Flute Gana".

I went on Ganachaud's website and saw snippets of the making of his baguettes and read all the materials available such as press releases, interviews, quotes etc.

Although he never published the exact recipe, I was able to piece together the principles behind his famous baguettes:

1- It is a Poolish baguette.

2- It is based on a Type 65 flour.

3- It calls for a minimum use of yeast.

4- It calls for very gentle mixing of the dough.

5- It calls for an extended fermentation at low temperature.

6- It has a signature one stroke end to end score of the baguette.

Following is my formulation for a 500 gms total Flour mixture and 70% hydration:

- 300 gms KAF AP Flour

- 150 gms KAF Bread Flour

- 50 gms KAF WWW Flour

The Poolish:

- 150 gms Flour mixture

- 150 gms Water

- 1/16 tsp Instant Yeast

Dough mixture:

- 350 gms Flour mixture

- 200 gms Water

- 1/8 tsp Instant Yeast

- 8 gms Sea Salt

Mix the poolish and let it ferment 8 to 10 hours.

Mix the water, flour and yeast to the poolish with a flat beater at speed 2 for 1 min. and autolyse for 1/2 hr.

Add the salt and mix with dough hook at speed 2 for 1 min.

Stretch and fold 10 times using the Bertinet method and threepeat it at 20 mins interval.

Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 1 hr until almost double in size.

Refrigerate dough for 24 hrs before dividing into 3 roughly 280 gms pieces and gently preshaping into torpedo shapes and resting for 1 hr.

Gently shape baguettes trying not to de-gas too much and proof for 45 mins.

Score end to end with one stroke of the lame 1/2" deep at 45 degree angle. Bake immediately at 460 degrees with steam for 10 mins.

Reduce oven temperature to 430 degrees and continue baking without steam for another 12 mins.

Turn off heat and let cool in oven with door ajar for 5 mins before cooling on wire rack.

I have made this recipe 3 times and it turned out great everytime. The baguettes had a golden brown crust that smelled sweet and caramelly and sang loudly while cooling. It was not too thick but was nicely crackly. The crumb was open and not too gelatinized. It had the right balance of sweetness, richness and wheatiness.

Ganachaud shaped his baguettes before retarding them in the refrigerator for a prolongued second fermentation. I do not have a big enough refrigerator to do this but am wondering if this will make a big difference in the end result. Nonetheless, my wife and I enjoyed the fruits of my experiment with some home made Jambon de Paris, sweet butter, cornichons and a glass of Burgundy as a toast to Bernard Ganachaud!



dmsnyder's picture

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente crumb

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente crumb 


These baguettes were made with Hamelman's formula for Poolish Baguettes in "Bread." I used Guisto's Baker's Choice flour for the poolish and the final dough. I made a half recipe. My only modification in ingredients was to throw in about 4 oz of pate fermente - dough left over from the last batch of baguettes I made a couple of days ago.

I also modified Hamelman's baking method in that I preheated the oven to 500F. After loading the loaves and pouring boiling water in the skillet, I turned the oven down to 460F. I baked 20 minutes then left the loaves in the turned off oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes more. (See my previous blog entry for details of Hamelman's method of steaming the oven.)

I got satisfactory oven spring, but it might have been better if I had baked 15 minutes sooner. As it was, these proofed for about 60 minutes. I wonder if the cuts would have opened up more also.

Other than the paltry bloom, these were the best (traditional) baguettes I've made to date. They "sang" while cooling. The crust was perfectly crackly, which thrilled me. The crumb was more open than most baguettes I've made. Not as open as I'd have liked, but I'm getting there. The taste was as good as any baguette I've tasted. I wonder if the pate fermente, as little as it was, added a depth of flavor.

I think I am going to stick with this formula for a while. I'm going to stick with this oven temperature and steaming method. I expect to try different flours and tweak the hydration level and the proofing some.

Now, I've got to go deal with 7 freshly baked baguettes.


dmsnyder's picture

Baguettes with Poolish

Baguettes with Poolish

Baguette crumb

Baguette crumb 

In my ongoing efforts to make wonderful baguettes at home, today I baked the Poolish baguettes from Hamelman's "Bread."

 The poolish was made late last night. This morning it was about doubled and very bubbly. I used King Arthur AP flour for the poolish and for the dough. This worked well. I think the dough had the desired consistency with the exact amounts of ingredients called for in the formula. No adjustments were necessary. I mixed the dough for 3-3.5 minutes in a KitchenAide mixer, fermented 2 hours with one fold at 60 minutes. The dough was scaled and preshaped, then rested 10 minutes before shaping. I proofed the baguette for 60 minutes and baked 24 minutes at 460F with steam. I propped the oven door slightly open after I removed the skillet with water at 10 minutes in hopes of a thinner, crisper crust. I think it helped some.

 I think the result was my best baguettes to date. I attribute this to less mixing, gentler shaping and not over-proofing the loaves. My scoring is better but still far from what I would have liked. The crumb color was distinctly yellowish. I assume this is from the carotene I usually oxidize by over-mixing dough. The cut baguette had a somewhat yeasty smell, which is not desirable, but it didn't taste yeasty. The taste was less sweet than some baguettes, but nice and wheaty. 

Hamelman's recipe makes 3 lb 6 oz of dough. I scaled 2 portions at 12 oz. The rest I make into one batard shape and tried to cut it to make a "Viverais," one of the fancy shapes in "Advanced Bread and Pastry." It didn't really work, but the result was ... interesting ... and the bread was very good tasting.

 Viverais made with baguette dough

Viverais made with baguette dough

Viverais crumb

Viverais crumb 


The photo of the crumb doesn't do justice to the lovely yellow color it had. 


Subscribe to RSS - poolish baguettes