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My Baguette and Questions

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sewcial's picture
sewcial

My Baguette and Questions

I have finally managed to create a light crumb bread. Here are my baguettes that I made today. It was wonderful with the perfect crisp crust and a nice open light crumb. I also succeeded in kaiser rolls yesterday, but I am wondering why I had so many failures first. 


I was following recipes to the letter. Maybe that was the problem, but several recipes for kaisers or baguettes resulted in a heavy, very chewy and sometimes very tight crumb. The flavor was great, but the crumb was not. Also the crumb was usually in various shades of gray or streaky looking. I used many different recipes, mostly using a biga or poolish and calling for a lot of kneading. Fermenting and proofing were said to last until doubled in volume and the estimated time was fairly short.


I wonder if my problem was too much kneading, too short fermenting or proofing? That is the only thing I have changed. I am now using the very same flours and other ingredients. The difference is in my technique. For these successes,I am using the fold and rest technique instead of kneading. I mix the dough just until it is all incorporated, take it to the table and knead 1-3 minutes just till it feels cohesive and like a dough. Then I fold at 30, 60, 90 minutes. At 2 hours it is ready. This worked with BBA's kaisers and Baguettes. Both used a pre-ferment. Although the book called for kneading and traditional fermenting, I used the other method. 


Do you think too much kneading can cause the tough gray crumb? I'd appreciate suggestions. In the meantime, I am pretty impressed with the fold and rest method. I am wondering if I can use the technique with all recipes.


Catherine


crust


crumb

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I don't know if you were over-kneading before. I do suspect you were incorporating too much flour from your kneading surface which caused the streaking.


Stretch and fold is working for you. Stick with it! It works best for doughs that are medium hydration, at least for me. I much prefer either machine mixing or "stretch and fold in the bowl" for very slack doughs.


I don't have a really good sense of your fermenting and proofing routines. Anyway, how much to ferment and proof varies somewhat according to the type of bread. and other variables.


I'm glad you found a method that's giving you good bread.


David

sewcial's picture
sewcial

Well, I doubt it was too much flour as most of the doughs seemed a bit wetter than the recipe described. The first ones were from D. Leader's Local Breads and were so soft I couldn't have kneaded it by hand. He said to knead 10-12 minutes at speed 4 of a Kitchen Aid, but it stayed soft and it never reached windowpane until I kneaded at least 30 minutes. Even then, I wasn't impressed with the windowpane it made; seemed kind of weak. Maybe it was too wet? My fold and rest dough gets windowpane very early.


With a couple doughs, I tried hand kneading, but only after the mixer failed to produce window pane. I took the advice to just keep scraping the dough off my hands rather than adding flour. The crumb was also very gray. It's possible I didn't ferment or proof long enough. 


During fermenting, the dough always rose much faster than the book said it should so I gave the dough a turn and left it, but only as long as the minimum time recommended. Maybe I should have left it for the maximum time even if it did rise too much. The proofing was about the average time recommended and they seemed to rise till nearly double, but, even though they had oven spring, maybe it wasn't enough. They were still heavy. 


I intend to revisit a couple of the other recipes and try the fold and rest method just to see if it makes a difference. I'm just so puzzled about the strange results.  Unfortunately, I will have to take a break from baking for a while because my freezer is full of bread and we will be having family here for a couple weeks. I need to clean the house and put some other things in the freezer. If I bake while they are here, I need to make something I know will turn out.


I am just so puzzled. I'm using good flour, fresh yeast, making the pre-ferments as directed, etc. Well, I'll keep on trying. I am eager to do some artisan whole grains, too, and see how they come out. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Catherine.


Mixing times in recipes are only guidelines. A good bread cookbook will give you some guidance regarding the desired dough consistency and gluten development. Those parameters are the really important ones.


The specific flours you use, your kitchen temperature and other variables will change how your dough develops during mixing and fermentation.


Since you mention Daniel Leader, I have found his mixing times to be on the short side of what I need to do to arrive at the gluten development called for. Fermentation times are important to develop flavor. If your kitchen is warm (like mine is this time of year), dough expands faster. Doing an extra fold may be appropriate.


Again, providing the specific recipe your working with will help us give better advice, especially if you are making a bread we know from personal experience.


Enjoy your family visits. When you are back to baking, let's tackle your problems. They can be solved.


David

sewcial's picture
sewcial

 I was so obsessed with getting it right that I made batch after batch, especially of kaiser rolls. After eating a token one for taste testing, they all went into the freezer. I did take pictures of some of them, but I didn't label them. Now I can't even remember which rolls went to which recipe...LOL. I just made at least one batch a day for a couple weeks. We will be having a lot of french toast around here soon. Each bread had a nice flavor and my DH who doesn't bake or cook much, said they were all delicious while I was nearly in tears over the heaviness.


The most recent failures I do remember. They were two batches I did on the same day and I made one change to the recipes. Due to the many heavy rolls, I added a 15 gramms of a dough enhancer I made based on a product sold by a German company similar to King Arthur (diastatic malt, a little sugar and a pinch of ascorbic acid).That should have made them lighter, not heavier.


One was Leader's French Daily Bread (no pre-starter)and shorter risings. The other was the poolish bagette from BBA. I thought I was following it exactly, but I think I kneaded by hand since I didn't trust the mixer method after so many failures. I fermented twice until it looked double so maybe I didn't ferment long enough -- recipe says 2 hours each time and I don't remember whether I let it go that long.


I forgot to turn on the oven an hour ahead for the straight dough (2 baguettes and 4 kaiser rolls) so they came out with pale ugly crust as well as being heavy.


The poolish baguettes came out looking picture perfect, but I now think they had not fermented or proofed long enough. The rolls from that dough were a tight crumb and the grayest color ever. The flavor was good, but so heavy for baguette or kaisers.


One thing to note is that the rolls always looked like they had nearly doubled in size before baking. During baking (with steam) they rose up into a dome the middle, but they seemed to pull in at the sides, making a smaller roll in width. That puzzled me. Do you think that is a result of under fermenting or under proofing? I am beginning to think so. I don't now what causes the grayness, though. I found another person saying her breads came out gray, but she never seemed to get an answer. The concensus seemed to be her flour caused it and she changed flour. I am using the same flour all the time, even with my successes. I use KA AP and Gen. Mills Bread flour, both unbleached. I have the KA artisan AP and use it if the recipe calls for it. I've found it is just AP with malt added, though, so might not spend the extra in future when I have diastatic malt I can add.


Wish I could keep trying the other recipes over while all this is fresh in my mind.


Catherine