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.