Baguette Surprise and Challenge – followed more closely
Inspired by dmsnyder, I have been inching along on the challenge of making straight dough baguettes.
I'm still getting over the fast action of commercial yeast, so I will try not to enthuse too much.
This time I used my standard baguette formula (65% hydration) with 10% of my home milled high extraction flour and 90% King Arthur All Purpose. Instant yeast was used at .5%. I changed nothing else in the process - just the mix of flours
I tried the trick of turning off the oven, but chickened out at two minutes. The crust immediately out of the oven was very crackly, but did get softer as the baguettes cooled, but not nearly as much as the last batch.
This time I was able to concentrate on my scoring. The cooling baguettes are shown below. I don't want to k'vel, but I think they look pretty nice. I love this oven spring with commercial yeast! If anything they were a touch under proofed (gotta be me) but not by much. Oh, OK, a little uneven on a couple of slashes and some tearing.
And here are the money shots. The crumb.
Not bad. So much depends on where the slice hits, but not bad.
The taste? Again, lacking my little levain tang but pretty good. I would say a tad better than all white. The texture was fluffy. I'm sure that toasted tomorrow they will be very nice. Again, I would think this bread would be better in combination with "something else." I feel that it has a sweetness to it that David didn't taste.
Here are my observations on technique:
- I add the salt at the beginning of the process. I just don't think it makes a big difference and the voice in my head doesn't mock me about my irrational fear of salt.
- Leaving the loaves in the oven for even two minutes had a significant effect on the "crackliness" of the crust. Five minutes would be better.
- I'd like to try these with even less yeast. After 1 hour of bulk ferment these guys were definitely doubled. If I pulled down the yeast a bit, the bulk ferment would take longer and I might get a better flavor (remembering that we want to get our loaves in the oven in 4-6 hours.) My formula has about 1% less yeast than David's and this may have made a difference. From past experience, I think it did.
- I might (and I emphasize "might") up the hydration a bit. The dough did feel a little stiff. However I am standing firm that it is getting the fermentation correct, not just upping the hydration that creates the proper baguette crumb. I only feel that the hydration should be increased ever so slightly to compensate for the whole wheat.
- Folks who have watched me pre shape and shape dough remark on the quality of "the iron hand in the velvet glove" that I bring to my shaping (after years of practice). I could be gentler I guess, but the voice in my head tells me that this is not the major factor (once you get to the "iron hand in velvet glove" phase - I mean if you are treating your baguettes like a stress relief ball, you need to back off) and I agree. I think "gentle shaping" can be taken too far and this results in an unattractive end product.
- I would make sure I concentrate on my scoring as this does have an impact.
- I would steam normally. The extra steam will probably just mess up the scoring.
Well, that's quite a binge of baguette baking. I'm not prepared to give up my levains and pre ferments, but it's nice to know I can start a bread at noon and have it by dinner if I am pressed.
David, I hope these observations are useful.