The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baguette help....

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Baguette help....

This weekend I decided to make baguettes - I spent some time searching this site for recipes, and was amazed at the number of possibilities!


I went with a recipe that calls for a little sourdough starter -


 


I had a few problems with it - mostly with the shaping, I think - if you look closely at one of my loaves, you will see it has "stretch marks" - from when I tried to do the final shaping, rolling the pre=formed baguette into its longer version.  Also, because I wanted to bake them inside an upside down roasting pan, I could not make them as big as they should have been. They turned out ok, but a little on the heavy side


 


I was hoping to have a recipe that would end in a very light and airy baguette, as opposed to creamy and a bit heavier


I think that commercial yeast might be better than a sourdough starter - what do the experts here think?


 


here are some photos

xaipete's picture
xaipete


I don't make my baguettes with sourdough, just instant yeast. But in any event your loaves look nice and have very attractive scores.


--Pamela

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

From what you described, it sounds like you would have scaled your baguettes a bit lighter to fit under your roaster and have the length:diameter proportions you wanted.


You can make wonderful baguettes with yeast, levain or a combination. Try all of them, and see what you like.


Forming baguettes requires practice. Just make them often. You will progress. Trust me on this. 


Your crumb actually looks pretty darn nice, to me. And your scoring is terrific.


David

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Thanks, David!


 


I was reasonably happy with it because my first attempt at baguettes (a couple of years ago) was such a disaster that I never tried it again.


I am thinking that it may be better to forget the roasting pan for this kind of bread - and try to get steam using more "traditional" methods like the ice cubes. This way I can have longer loaves in. Also, I do have one of those pans with perforations, in a rounded shape, although they are larger, more like a thicker loaf than the thin baguette.


will keep trying. The quest for a great baguette is on!

suave's picture
suave

To me your baguettes look fine.  Stretch marks - likely your flour is too strong.  Did you use bread flour? If so, you need to give them longer rest after the initial shaping, and perhaps another period of rest if the dough again becomes too resilient when you roll it.  As far as crumb structure goes - softer wetter dough typically give more open structure.

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

I did not use bread flour, I used 'regular' - one of the loaves did not have those stretches, though. They happened when I was rolling the loaf, almost as if the bread stuck too tightly to the surface and when I tried to roll and extend it, a ton of small wrinkles were forming on its skin.


 


does that make sense? It was the first time I was trying to shape a baguette according to the instructions (Glezer's book) so obviously I had no idea what I was doing


 


later I re-read the book and it says you should spend maybe 1 or 2 minutes doing the shaping. I won't confess how long it took ME  :-)

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I think your bread looks great, but wanted to refer you to Mark from Backstreet Bakery's shaping videos...


I had the same problem with shaping baguettes and watched his videos several times. They're really good.


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9994/short-baguette-video


Patricia


 

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

BIG thank you!


Will watch it very carefully and get busy again next weekend!

proth5's picture
proth5

But just in case you miss the finer points in the video, here are some things to consider.



  1. Pay attention to symetry at every step of the shaping process.  It will pay off in the end

  2. Make sure that you have allowed you pre-shaped dough to rest sufficiently.  If the dough "fights back" during the final roll, let it rest a few minutes and try again

  3. Flour your hands not the bench if things are sticking

  4. On the final roll there should be NO flour on the bench.  Flour will act like little ball bearings and your loaf will slide, not roll.  If it is sticking, see above, but your goal is to have enough surface tension so at that phase there is not sticking.

  5. Pre-shape lightly but firmly

  6. Note the correct hand position - finger tips and the heel of your hand on the bench - this is very important

  7. The operative sense of motion is "down and out" - light pressure downward on the dough while pulling it outward


Your loaves are actually quite nice looking, but if you concentrate on the finer points you might be better pleased.


As my coach used to say "Practice makes perfect only if you practice perfectly."


Happy Baking!

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

This is the first time I've read that there should be no flour on the bench, and my loaves have rolled as if on ball bearings--couldn't figure it out!


Thanks so much!


Patricia

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Thank you for your input on this.... indeed, Practice makes perfect only if you practice perfectly.... nice quote!


 

rolls's picture
rolls

hi first of all they look beautiful and your scoring is always wonderful. i just wanted to say that ive been a bit baguette obsessed lately and have been trying anis bouabsa' baguettes i think you would love them. i recently posted about a video of him it shows how he shapes the baguettes. after watching it i found shaping to be really easy and he tapers the ends which is how i like it. my only difficulty has been with scoring. let me know what you think and if you do try it i would love to see pics!

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

WHen I was searching for recipes in this site, I saw "anis bouabsa" recipe - I think I'll give that recipe a try next.


will definitely report back once I try it


 


thank you!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Sally.


Good choice for your next baguettes! Besides making excellent baguettes, Bouabsa's approach is one of the easiest to fit into the schedule of those of us who work outside the home. (Nury's Light Rye is another.)


I haven't made any Bouabsa baguettes for ..... Hmmmm .... I guess it's 3 hours now.




The crumb on these is not as open as usual. I made this batch adding 100 gms of 65% hydration sourdough starter, and I used KAF White Whole Wheat for 10% of the flour. I should have added more water to bring the dough back to how it would have been at 75% hydration with all AP flour.


Anyway, I enjoyed them with dinner.


Looking forward to seeing how they work for you!


David

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

OOOOOH!!!!!! Those are exactly the kind of baguettes I'm looking for - they seem very airy and light, and the crumb is perfect for my taste. I don't really need crumb more open than that


 


too bad it's Monday still   :-(

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

well, I will be making these tomorrow to bake on Sunday -


 


I watched the video so many times now, I "think" I will be able to get the pre-shaping ok, but that final rolling will not be easy, I'm afraid


 


from what I could see, he creates surface tension by "pinching" the full length of the pre=shaped loaf as if "glueing" it to the surface. Is that correct?


 


then he rolls it, beautifully..... no way I'll be able to do it like he did. But I'll give it a try

proth5's picture
proth5

He is folding the preshaped baguette in half lengthwise and pinching the two edges of the dough together.  This can alsp be accomplished by folding and pressing the to edges together against the bench.


If you've done the preshaping and the fold correctly (and there is no flour on the bench) it rolls out like magic (heheheh)


Hope this helps

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I had a really hard time shaping until I saw the list of 5 or 6 things that someone wrote on this site (can anyone help me out here?) about shaping.


The first point that really made a difference to me were to make sure, as proth says, that there's no flour underneath your dough when you're trying to roll it out. This can be tricky with the slack doughs, but you can still flour your hands lightly. The second point was to make sure that my fingertips and the heel of my hand were on the counter. I found that really helped with getting the loaves even and the tips tapered.


Good luck--but as I said, your loaves already look great!


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, pattycakes.


This may not be the list you are thinking of, but this thread has a nice collection of technical tips regarding shaping baguettes offered by proth5. You have to scroll through the topic to find them, and the blog entry illustrates one of my earliest efforts at baguettes - at the starting point of my learning curve, as it were. So, my baguettes illustrated in that entry needed a lot of advice, which Pat generously provided.


So, without further excuses and disclaimers:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7637/hamelman039s-poolish-baguettes


I hope this helps.


David

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Great link on shaping and a lot of other stuff too. Thanks for directing us to it.


--Pamela

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

The link you gave was the one that really helped me. Sometimes a simple direction is all that's needed to fix something I've been struggling with, and those directions from Pat really did it. By the way, it was really fun to see how far your own baguettes have come.


Thank you!


Patricia

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Well, David I think I know what my problem with this technique is - when I was trying to shape the baguettes last weekend, I was very worried about the "seam", the position of the seam after I rolled it out


 


from the video, it seems that he does not care at all - he just rolls and the seam is not exactly at the bottom of the loaf in the final product. So, I imagine that when he cuts the slashes, it makes no difference where the seam is in relation to the cut.


 


is that right?


 


I am getting butterflies in my stomach as the moment to shape the baguettes approaches... :-)

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Great lookin baguettes.  The writeups are great too!  Sorry,  I have been missing a lot of posts lately...this is getting to be  a real busy place...


Sylvia

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Sally, Your baguettes look wonderful..great job!


Sylvia

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Well, this was more than humbling, it was approaching pathetic.


 


so many mistakes I made, it wasn't even funny.


 


First of all, I think I got the rolling to go reasonably ok, especially for the second one, BUT they turned out too big to fit in the oven OR to be carried to the oven. I also forgot to put them over parchment paper (WHAT was I thinking?) - and they stuck to the baking sheet during the final rise.


 


I ended up having to cut the loaf in half, still when I carried to the oven it kept stretching and stretching and stretching.... it was not a pretty picture in the kitchen, dogs and husband left pretty quickly when the expletives started to fly.  ANd they did fly


I baked the first two loaves over tiles, with ice cubes (the crust looks horrible, the bread looks like an abomination of nature).  The second two loaves I decided to bake with my roasting pan inverted to generate some steam, and the crust is much better.



my conclusions:


1. 75% hydration dough is not for sissies. Do not attempt to make those unless you are already pretty good at shaping baguettes with a lower hydration


2. the fact that a recipe seems simple and still wins the prize for best baguette of the year in PARIS means that it's all in the technique. IN other words, don't expect any prizes yourself.


3. do not cut a loaf that is already formed in half and expect to have two decent looking loaves.


4. forget about the ice cubes, they don't give enough steam. Stick with baking loaves covered 3/4 of the way through.


5. do not despair, even if your kitchen is covered in flour.



if anyone wants to see the disaster, I have a link below.


 


 


http://tinyurl.com/cc77bk


 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Sally.


I have, at one time or another, made each of the mistakes you describe - at least once.


Making all those mistakes with a single batch of baguettes just must be an indication that you are getting them out of the way and will be progressing faster than if you had dragged them out over multiple bakes.


Looking forward to your speedy recovery!


David

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

I just made my best looking slack dough loaves today--after three months of practice!


Patricia

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Congratulations!


I imagine how great that made you feel!


 


I pretty much decided I am making this exact recipe again, correcting as many of my boo-boos as possible. The crumb showed that this is the right direction to go, I only need to be patient and practice often. (I hope)

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

Well, I am not quite there yet, but I am very happy I tried this recipe again.


 


my main problem now is the slashing of the dough - I should have believed when I read David's instructions and how you need to cut deeper than you think you should.


I don't know if wetting the blade would help, but I need to work on my technique


I think the pictures will show well the whole process - if you don't have the patience to see the captions, I show the dough at several stages, the initial after overnight in the fridge is a "shaggy mass" - then after folds at 20, 40, and 60 minutes


http://tinyurl.com/cedc46


The baguettes still don't look as good as I would hope, but the crumb is good, the taste is great.


 


I am going to stick with this recipe until I "get" it.


 


I am including here just a picture of the crumb for those interested, and who don't feel like going to flickr site to see all the photos

pattycakes's picture
pattycakes

But I understand your frustration with scoring and shaping. I feel like I'm still working on those things, but the last baguette bake, I used the aluminum turkey roasting pan to cover them (as so many people before me have), and all of a sudden things that I couldn't get to work before happened like magic. I got ears on my slashes, and the oven spring was amazing. As soon as I get it figured out, I'll post the photos.


Have you tried that? You don't have to use any other steaming method. I also baked sourdough rye and PR's Poilane yesterday with the same cover, and it works like magic!


Patricia

SallyBR's picture
SallyBR

yes, that is the method I've been using for pretty much everything, except when I bake in the clay baker, with its own cover


 


these baguettes were baked under the roasting pan, two at a time.  It does work like magic, now I absolutely need to practice the slashing of the dough. Maybe scissors would work better for this kind of dough?