The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baguettes au Levain

DonD's picture

Baguettes au Levain

This past weekend, I made a batch of Baguettes au Levain based on the recipe that Janedo had adapted from the Anis Bouabsa formula. This is my third try at this recipe and each time I tweaked it a little bit to correct some aspects that did not turned out to my liking. This time the loaves turned out pretty good with nice oven spring and airy crumb. The crust had nice golden color with small blisters, thin and crackly and deep caramel flavor. The taste was not sour but is rich and sweet with a slight tang.

The formula I used consists of:

- 125 g of stiff white flour levain at 67% hydration

- 300 g KAF AP Flour

- 150 g KAF Bread Flour

- 50 g Arrowhead Mills Organic Stoneground WW Flour

- 350 g water

- 1/4 tsp Instant Yeast

- 10 g Atlantic Sea Salt

I autolyse the flour mixture with the water without the yeast or salt for 30 mins prior to mixing in the levain, then added the yeast and the salt during the stretch and fold. I followed the 20 movements 3 times at 20 mins interval using the stretch and fold from Richard Bertinet (I like slapping the dough!). I let the dough ferment for 1 hr then refrigerate for 24 hours before dividing, shaping and baking.

I reduced the hydration to 70% to make the shaping and scoring of the baguettes easier. I also found that that little extra yeast really helps with the oven spring.

I proofed the shaped baguettes and scored them on a perforated pan lined with parchment paper which helps keep the shape, especially when working with a high hydration dough. To help me comtrol the scoring, I made a full size cardboard template as a guide while scoring.

I tranferred the loaves by sliding the parchment onto a jerry-rigged wooden peel made from a top cover of a Bordeaux wine case and from there onto the baking stone.

I baked 10 mins at 460 degrees F with steam from a cast iron pan filled with lava stones (thanks David!), reduce to 430 degrees and baked without steam for 13 mins, turned off oven and kept them in the oven with door ajar for another 5 mins ( thanks again David!) before removing them to cool on a rack.


I hope these little tidbits will be of help. Happy baking!



xaipete's picture

Nice loaves and great crumb, Don. I bet they taste great.


Yippee's picture

grigne and shaping.  Good job! 


Nomadcruiser53's picture

Looks very professional. Dave

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Don.

Your baguettes look wonderful!

That scoring template is a novel idea. It sure seems to have worked for you. Do you have any comments about how it is to use?


DonD's picture

Thanks Pamela, Yippee, Dave and David for your compliments. Believe me, there sure are a lot of failures before any success.

David, the idea of the template is a guide to control the scoring strokes. I simply draw the baguette shape full size with the scoring pattern that I want to achieve and line it next to the loaf. The visual image lets me control the location and length of the cuts. I also found that a deeper cut (1/2") at 45 degrees works for me. I use a double edge razor blade on coffee stirrer. Of course as you know, there are so many variables in getting a good open 'grigne'. The stars must have been aligning right for me!


SylviaH's picture

Everything about these baguettes looks beautiful! 


DonD's picture

But best of all they tasted great with some home made French Ham, sweet unsalted butter and cornichons, the ultimate French snack!


summerbaker's picture

I've been pondering whether or not to purchase a perforated pan for baguettes and I think your post has convinced me.  It definitely has been difficult to keep high hydration dough from going kind of flat.  Your use of parchment paper was particularly interesting b/c I had wondered about how to transfer the shaped loaves if you want to bake them on a stone.  Looks like your technique worked perfectly!


DonD's picture

Proofing on the perforated pan really helps the baguettes keep their shape until the last minute. Two slides of the parchment and they are on the baking stone.

Happy baking!