The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Baguette From This Forum

dteng's picture
dteng

My Baguette From This Forum

Well, I have lurked for 6 months.


Decided in October that I'd like to learn how to make a good baguette...crikey...I was not ready for the madness.


I spent last winter learning how to make good homemade chicken stock (for soups)...so I figured this year, bread...specifically baguettes.


Anyway, I never even made a simple loaf, and boy did I have a steep learning curve to climb.


Well, I have done everything from adjusting temps, to tinkering with hydration, shaping/scoring (this is still challenging)...I tried all sorts of things...I have even thrown out loaves (please tell me I am not the only one).  But one thing I can say is that everything I learned about making baguette came from here.  This place is an incredible resource.


Essentially, over the course of 6 months, I bought a scale, lots of bread flour, a steamer, a $20 steam pan cover (drilled a hole), baking stone, a peel, and lots of parchment paper...(yeah, I don't like to do things half way)...I used Anis' formula for ratios, and copied Steam Maker's method for making steam.  (Did I mention I cracked the oven glass...wifey no happy...)   I used all sorts of differing steam and dry baking times.  I can't say how many loaves I made in total...but let's just say that I am glad I have twin toddlers to help consume the end products. 


Well today, I think I finally reached my own baguette summit.  I was able to create a decent crumb with chewy big holes, and a nice thin crispy (not crunchy) crust...a little plugra butter and voila...



 


Thanks to everyone's tips, I was able to make something I always considered impossible to do at home!


Woohoo!!


(OK...one thing about bread baking...it can be very inconsistent...arg!)

SourdoLady's picture
SourdoLady

That is one perfect looking baguette. You are an excellent learner! I don't think it could get any better than that. I am truly impressed. Awesome job!!

dteng's picture
dteng

Thanks SourdoLady!


It has been a looong road, and one spent thinking way too much about all the little factors that affect the end result.  (I feel like I have tormented myself for 6 months!)  Actually a month into it I read somewhere here that making baguettes is a true test of a bread baker's skill...and I thought, oh goody, I am an idiot!


Funny thing is now I see all these folks saying something along the lines of "when I get the courage, I'll dive into baguettes..."  I assume it is easier to make batards and boules??


oh well, ignorance is bliss.

jemar's picture
jemar

That is a really good looking baguette! If only we could sample from a photograph! I must admit I have never attempted a baguette yet, I am a learner also. but if I thought I could get to your standard I would start the journey now. Also, your photography is very good too.

rainwater's picture
rainwater

How did you make these beautiful baquettes, and what is the recipe?  The photo is maybe the most beautiful baguette photo ever.....

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Nice job, dteng!


Persistence pays. 


Did you use Anis' mixing and retardation techniques?


David

rivershak's picture
rivershak

that baquette is GORGEOUS !!!!!


i am just now starting to learn the art of bread making....could i get you recipe ????

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Very nice looking Baguettes! So are they as good as you expected? If you are using the Anis formula and method they must by very good. The overnight fermenting of French style dough does wonderful things to the aftertaste and flavor of simple ingredients.


Congratulations on your bread. Hope to see more from you.


Eric

dteng's picture
dteng

Jemar,


If I can do this, anyone can!  It took a lot of reading, and a TON of trial and error.  I am not sure how many folks here use the steam injection technique, but I think this is key.  Photography...I simply use a point and shoot digital (Canon Powershot)...well, I also use a cheap tripod so I can use natural lighting.

dteng's picture
dteng

Rainwater and Rivershak, I use the Anis B recipe - sometimes I will use smaller amounts, but everything stays in proportion.


David, yes, I have done the folding in mixer technique.  However, I have started to keep the dough at room temp for an extra hour before placing in the frig just to encourage some fermentation.  I have also kept dough in the frig for 2-3 days, and it still turns out great.  One other thing, I have added yeast to water first, let sit for five minutes, then added to flour, mix, THEN add salt last.


..and you are right...gotta be persistent!  There were some days that I just put everything away because I was so frustrated...


Ehanner, this one was actually better than I expected.  It was strange, because I had tinkered with several parameters (steam times, temps etc) but kept getting a crunchier crust than I wanted.  Once I cranked the heat up, everything fell into place.


Thanks folks for all the compliments!  I really believe anyone can do this, but you might have to invest in a steam cleaner and stainless cover.  As I said earlier, I simply bought a $20 banquet steam pan 12x14 inches and 6 inches deep.  I think this makes a HUGE difference.  Plus the very high temperatures gave a faster caramelization, therefore, less time for prolonged crust thickening.


I have one more batch currently proofing.  If I remember, and if the twins don't get at it, I will post more pics.  And yes, I am nervous...because recreating something great has been quite elusive for me...

tschaefges's picture
tschaefges

I absolutely agree that the steam table pan is the way to go. My bread improved dramatically when I started baking under a pan. I don't have a steamer, though. I spray the insides of the pan and let that and the moisture from the loaf make the steam.


My method is described in this post on my blog http://anamateurbakerinsidney.blogspot.com/2009/03/sourdough-bread.html

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'm really impressed with those holes. So you didn't buy the steam maker, just made your own? Do you think the steamer and steam pan are the sine qua non here?


Did you get your oven glass repaired yet? You can do it yourself; I did.


--Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Now I understand why you made your own. Yikes Steam Maker wants and arm and leg for their device. Can you give instructions for making your own?


Thanks, Pamela

dteng's picture
dteng

Hi Pamela,


Here is the one I bought (no affiliation).  It only cost around $20 compared to $85.  I did buy a more expensive steam cleaner only because I will use it for...well...cleaning!  And plus, I wanted to generate enough steam.  Those little dinky ones may not generate enough steam.  Plus I only use distilled water in the machine so no worries about chemicals or detergents.


And yes, it was a little bit of an epic making the hole.  I broke one drill bit, then tried hammering a nail to make a pilot hole, then finished making the hole with increasing drill bit sizes.  I will post a picture of mine a little later when I have more time.


Oh yeah, we replaced our glass.  Wasn't too hard...


And to answer your earlier question...sine qua non...essential only in a that I have no other options than to install a steam injecting oven!  I know other methods, like using a glass dome to cover the bread will work, but the shape and size may not be compatible with baguettes.  Plus I don't know how one would inject steam under the glass.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Hey, thanks, for your reply. I could justify buying a steam cleaner for cleaning--I see Costco has one for about $120. We've made epic holes before, e.g., when I insisted on having dispensers for soap and lotion in my stainless steel sink (let's just say my husband wasn't too happy about the experience). And, if I break the glass again, well that's just another $45.


--Pamela

dteng's picture
dteng

Here is pic of my steam cleaner, a Shark -


 



 


and here is my steam table pan cover converted into bread cover...notice the mark of frustration (nail banged into hole creating dent...such madness)



 


and lastly, here is a video (not me) of someone else using the steam method.


 He keeps lid on for 5 minutes - I do mine for 13 minutes.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mW0KBUZIwpo


 


I hope these help anyone who is interested.


Remember - go with a real high temperature.

xaipete's picture
xaipete

It's insanity, but at a very high level. I love it. --Pamela

xaipete's picture
xaipete

The video is great. I understand. Thanks, much. --Pamela

baltochef's picture
baltochef

dteng


The use of a 6" deep S.S. hotel pan (what you are using), or the lid to a 6" deep S.S. buffet chafing dish with attached handle (what the person in the video is using), to trap steam around hearth breads is sheer genius..Just drill a small hole into one side to allow the nozzle of a home steam cleaner to inject steam into the confines of the lid, and VOILA!!!..The home baker has the least expensive means of acheiving the results that professional baker's can with commercial ovens with their integral steam injection systems..


Sometimes it takes a person completely new to a subject to come up with an new, inexpensive, but completely effective means of accomplishing a task..


This method seems to me to be the best way for the home artisan baker to allow their hearth loaves to acheive maximum oven spring, along with the crunchy, crackly crust that only steam allows..


The person in the video injected the steam under the lid for approximately 18 seconds..He appeared to be using a chafing dish lid designed to cover a full sized hotel pan..How long are you pumping steam into the confines of your 2/3's size hotel pan??..


As an aside, drilling holes in the stainless steel alloys that are certified for use with foods is a cast iron pain-in-the-butt..It helps immensely to have access to a bench vise to clamp the pan in to keep it steady, and to minimize vibration..A vibrating drill bit , and or, object being drilled equates to a much more difficult to drill hole..A center punch (nail) hit with a hammer, and supported on the opposite side of the lid with a block of wood, is generally used to put an indentation in the steel before attempting to start drilling a hole in stainless steel alloys..It is virtually a necessity in order to start drilling a hole in stainless steels, especially thin sheet goods..A proper drill bit is also a necessity, with diamond-tipped bits being the first choice, followed closely by a carbide drill bit designed to drill metals..Then would come boron and cobalt coated drill bits, followed by high speed steel (HSS), and lastly plain old-fashioned carbon steel drill bits..


As you go down the list of drill bit choices, the bits are less capable of dealing with tough-to-drill materials which means that they get dull much more quickly than do the more expensive drill bits..This is a case of the home mechanic most definitely getting their money's worth by purchasing the more expensive drill bit..The frustration level in drilling tough materials lessens exponentially as one goes up in price with the drill bits, especially the carbide and diamond-tipped ones..Drilling stainless alloys with these drill bits is actually a fairly easy and pleasant task, something that cannot generally be said of the other choices..


Food-grade S.S. alloys are tough to work with, much tougher than most garden variety carbon steels that end up being rolled into sheet steels..These alloys have a property described as galling..What this means is that the material has a tendency to adhere to the tool that is trying to cut it..In layman's terms, the material is sticky..What that means is that instead of the cut material falling cleanly away from the tool bit that is cutting it, such as a wood chip, the material, in this case food-grade stainless steel, sticks to the cutting edge of the tool for a period of time thus interfering with the tool's ability to cut..Without proper, and constant, lubrication of of the cutting tool to encourage the cut chips to release away from the cutting edge, the galled material will actually adhere somewhat permanently to the cutting tool..In the case of a drill bit, the galled material causes the drill bit to spin in place without cutting, heat up from the friction, and become permanently damaged from the excess heat buildup as the steel drill bit loses its temper, and hardness..One can ruin, and break, a lot of drill bits trying to drill stainless steels without proper lubrication during the drilling process..


It is sometimes much cheaper to pay someone, such as a well-equipped machine shop, to drill the hole for you for a price of $10.00-$20.00; then it is to purchase the proper tools, and to try to do it oneself..The cost outlay for the proper tools, the time spent, and most especially the frustration experienced make paying someone to drill such a hole the way to go, unlees one is handy with tools, and familiar with working with stainless steels..


Bruce

dteng's picture
dteng

Bruce, I have settled on 15 seconds of steam injection.  Anything less than 10 seconds and the baguettes 'dry out' a little.


Of course I have not made anything other than baguettes!  so I am sure I will have to start experimenting again if I make something else, like batard.  I like the 6 inch deep pan, though it will be interesting once I start making larger loaves, i.e. I will have less clearance between the lid and inner oven top.


And just to be clear, this whole idea of steam injection was acquired from SteamMaker, not me.  So credit goes to them.  

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I'm sure SteamMaker appreciates that you are giving them credit :-) ; they probably like that better than $$$. Do you think?


--Pamela

baltochef's picture
baltochef

Sorry!!..I missed the reference to SteamMaker in the thread and thought that dteng came up with the idea himself..Even so, he came up with a way to get properly steamed bread in a home situation, using a multi-purpose steam generator as opposed to the single purpose one that SteamMaker is marketing..The initial cash outlay for dteng's system is higher, but one is not only able to inject steam into an oven for bread baking, but to also clean a variety of items around the home..I have got to give him credit for that..


Bruce

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Absolutely correct! Cleaning, baking, ironing .... Who knows what you could do with that sharp-looking shark!!!


--Pamela

dteng's picture
dteng

How about this - I'll just take credit for putting it all together, this way we spread the wealth (credit) among all those here who contributed.  Really, I spent a lot of time here - and in my kitchen banging my head against the wall - and was finally able to pull it off.  I still believe I have room for improvement, and time will tell if I can maintain consistency.


Okay, couple things - I have found that bulk fermenting in the frig for two days yields really nice loaves, and perhaps bigger holes.


Here is a picture of loaves from yesterday.  Just to nitpick, these were good, but the baking temp was just a little too low, thus the crust a little thicker.  Delicious nonetheless...



Pamela, well, I can certainly say that the intention has been to use the Shark for cleaning (and I did use it once to clean) but so far it has mostly been used for baking. LOL.


 


Dan

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Really nice scoring on those loaves, Dan. I'm glad that Shark got used once for cleaning. Just using it once for something else definitely qualifies it as a multitasker. Your conscience is clean.


--Pamela

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It is nice when you can duplicate a pleasant surprise. I think you about have it for the baguettes.


While Bruce was busy re writing War and Peace in metal shop, I was thinking about the trials we did here a couple years ago. I did some testing for the Steam Maker Bread Maker guys and if I can recall that far back, I think floyd did also. Aside from the price of the kit, I thought it worked pretty well.


Then one day (right around the same time) I discovered Susan of San Diego and her Magic Bowl technique. Susan showed us all that you don't need the steam unit at all. Yes it does work and you can get a slightly better shine on the surface but as far as oven spring, you can't beat her method. I won't bore you with a complete explanation of how simple and effective it is because it is searchable and has been discussed many times here in the past. I believe most every loaf Susan bakes is under a $3 bowl from Target.


So, great job on the baguettes. Try it next time just running a little water on the inside of your pan and placing it on the stone as before. I think you will be pleased. You can save the steamer for cleaning up the drill residue from Baltochef.


Eric