The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A day as a Baguette

GabrielLeung1's picture

A day as a Baguette

November 10, 2009 was an auspicious day. It was the second baguette day, and a day I thought would be as interesting and full of questions as I could be hoping for as early in the program as we were. I had my concerns of course, as the product we were finishing and baking was the direct baguette.

A stiff dough with no prefermentation or autolyse mixed in to make it more interesting, all the direct baguette had going for it was a long, cool, overnight proof, and all the hope I could knead into it. Since becoming a bread baker I had always used pre-fermentation and retarded yeast fermentation. More recently my whimsical bread baking techniques have wandered into such techniques as autolyse, flour scalding, and wild yeast fermentation, but today I was returning to my bread baking childhood and would be making an artisan bread without any tricks or mind bending biochemistry.

The crust was a golden yellow color! To say nothing of the crumb, a tight, cottony consistency. Nothing like what I was used to seeing in my own formulas, baguette or otherwise. Which is not to say that they weren't beautiful, there is no higher category of judgement then the grigne of the scores, yet upon seeing the crumb, I just had to shake my head.

But I think this was the definition of the intensive mix method, the dough was at 57% hydration, we used stand mixers to mix up the dough to a perfect window pane, fermented it, punched it down, shaped the baguettes, then let them proof overnight. Retarding the dough had promise, but I think in order to get that nice crumb structure the retarding must occur in the bulk fermentation, rather then afterwards. What the retarding did do was produce a mild, subtle flavor to the baguettes, which I appreciated. 

I look at my loaves, and I see potential. 


cranbo's picture

those baguettes look beautiful! i'm very new at baking, but the tight, cottony consistency is next on my list of achievements, as well as that level of golden color. 

I had a question about one of your comments: " I think in order to get that nice crumb structure the retarding must occur in the bulk fermentation, rather then afterwards."

Isn't bulk fermentation & fermentation the same thing, i.e., the first rise? Are you saying you think you should retard during the first rise instead of afterwards? Would this mean immediately cooling the dough in the 1st rise (i.e., from mixer to fridge?)

The fermentation terminology seems inconsistent and confusing as I read about it. Reminds me of the issue with meat cuts: pork shoulder, Boston Butt, and pork butt are basically the same cut of pork. But I am new at this, so maybe I am missing some subtlety, so thanks for your patience if I am :)

GabrielLeung1's picture

Well I can explain what I mean when I use the different terms.

Fermentation: Any period in bread making when the yeast is given time to consume sugars and produce carbon dioxide.

Bulk Fermentation: The first period of fermentation when the dough ferments after gluten development is mostly complete. 

Secondary Fermentation: A second period of bulk fermentation, it is preceded by a period of degassing.

Retarded yeast fermentation: Any type of fermentation occuring at low temperatures (around 40 F). 

Prefermentation: Fermenting dough ahead of time, then adding the pre-fermented dough to a batch of raw dough that has yet to be fermented. 

Autolyse: A period of relaxation and gluten development that occurs after mixing and before kneading.

Proofing: A period of fermentation that occurs after loaves have been shaped and prepped for baking. 

That's all the fermentation terminology that I usually use. Let me know if you have more questions,