The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from Florida

  • Pin It
sergio83's picture

Hello from Florida

Hi, my name is Sergio.  I live in central Florida so I've been taking advantage of the cold weather so I can use the oven to help warm up the house.  I started baking not too long ago, weeks maybe a month or two, on a regular basis.  I made a Challah, and that was very edible.

Lately I've been trying to make French baguettes.  A Parisienne I met said that they were so good and crunchy on the outside and for some reason I have an image of them with giant bubbles and a lace of dough, or whatever the stuff inside is supposed to be called, on the inside (not at all like what I get at the grocery store).  I haven't been able to get big bubbles.  The first ones I made were okay but the bubbles were far from fantastic.  The second one I made came out totally flat-- well, not totally flat but somewhat flat.  The flat one I tried to proof while it was already shaped: mix ingredients (including Patty F (the pate fermentee)), roll out baguettes and let rise for about two hours.  I don't know if they came out flat because I didn't proof the dough first then shape and proof again like I did the first time, or if it had everything to do with how I forgot to put flour on the parchment paper on which I proofed the baguette so it stuck when I tried to move it... maybe I should have just baked it while it was stuck... anyway--

Question 1: any advice about how to get big bubbles and a lacy inside in my baguettes? (OOPS! I just scrolled down and found the bubbles thread-- Sorry!)

I'm also trying an experiment in my refrigerator with a pate fermentee.  I've heard that they usually last for no more than three days.  I'm trying to use half of the PF up to every three days in the bread I'm baking that day while adding a cup of bread flour, 1/3 cup of water, a quarter teaspoon of yeast, and 1.5 quarter teaspoons of salt to the remaining PF and the same amounts to the bread I'm baking that day (this is the recipe I've been using halved).  I've heard that with a sourdough, adding equal amounts of flour and water is a way of feeding the starter, so I'm hoping this will work to feed the PF and that way I'll always have a PF on hand so I only have to wait a few hours to make bread.  This way I also don't make so much bread at a time so I bake more often and, more importantly, have more opportunities to eat fresh baked bread.

Question 2: Any predictions on how Patty (the PF) will do?  I guess I should also ask how I'll know when Patty has moved on to a better place (when the PF has gone bad/sour/unusable).

And at long last, finally--

Question 3: I've been using the packets of yeast, the Fleischmann's active dry, but I want to get the little jar of yeast instead.  The problem is that the only jar I could find at my grocery store said it was for bread machines-- can I use this without a bread machine, or are there some kinds of computer chips in the yeast that have to communicate with the bread machine or something?  Just so that it's perfectly clear, I don't really expect that there are micro-chips in the bread machine yeast.

Thanks in advance!  Sorry for going on and on,


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Sergio.

Welcome to TFL!

You have started your bread baking career with one of the most challenging breads to do "right," baguettes. The basic procedures are easy enough. It's the shaping, scoring and baking that are most sensitive to perfected technique. If you search TFL on "baguettes," you will find tons of tips.

Regarding your use of pâte fermentée: The traditional way is to reserve a portion of each batch of dough at the time you divide it to pre-shape your loaves and use this portion of "old dough" in the next batch. This will keep for 3 days, as you know. If you are making bread less often, you should make your pâte fermentée fresh for each batch. You really shouldn't feed it as you describe, as far as I know.

To get an "open," well-aerated crumb, several steps are important. These include good gluten development. Gluten forms the walls of the bubbles of CO2. Adequate bulk fermentation (the "first rise") is most important of all. That's when the bubbles form. Your flat loaf never had this step. Now you know why it was flat and dense. In handling the dough from that time on, you need to be firm but gentle, so as to avoid squashing the bubbles that formed. But you also need to shape the baguette well to form an intact "skin" to contain the dough when it expands during proofing and baking.

I suggest that, in addition to reading threads on TFL, you get a good baking book that goes through the steps of making bread so you understand the function of each and can make good decisions as you make bread. The book reviews on TFL can give you some suggestions.

This is a very condensed response to your questions. If you need clarification of any of these suggestions, please ask.

Happy baking!


SylviaH's picture

and Hello and Welcome, Sergio!

All those grocery store brands of yeast can be confusing!  You'll find all you questions about the Bread Machine, Rapid Rise and Active Dry Yeast here .  I just recently had to purchase some yeast at the local grocery because I thought I had a full container in my freezer.  Well it wasn't yeast.  I am now waiting on my delivery from the King Arthur Bread site where I normally stock up on my favorite yeasts.  I mostly use Instant Active Dry Yeast ' IADY ' for my yeast breads.  Oh, you might want to pick up a bag of chips while your at the store ; )


sergio83's picture

Thank You David and Sylvia!

I ended up using all of the PF in the dough I'll bake today and I'll take half of the dough and use that for the old-dough-- I tried to use a 60% saturated loaf which I left to rise after folding it for 25 minutes hoping the rise would make it congeal a bit.  It hasn't so I'll add flour a quarter cup at a time until it just makes a dough that can hold together... wish me luck!

And thanks for the advice, Sylvia, about the yeast.  I'm not too good with remembering things (I won't even go into how I was like "Why does she want me to pick up potato chips, is she trying to say that I'm going to have to eat them instead of fresh bread or are they supposed to be to eat with sandwiches... I figured it out... eventually) so I don't remember how much the stuff at walmart was (can I say walmart on here?)  The KA site has Instant Yeast and Active Dry but I couldn't find Instant Active Dry here: ( am I looking in the right place?

Anyway, thanks again you guys! I'll let you know how my bread soup turns out...


SylviaH's picture

KAFlour site is correct.  Any of the yeast brands that read instant on the label.  Click on it and you will information about how it is used.

sergio83's picture

Thanks Sylivia, the KA site looks like a really useful resource.

Meanwhile, I've made three batches of baguettes since, including the ones I made with the soup.  I ended up adding a half cup of flour to that and that worked out-- i'll have pictures when i figure out how that camera phone thing connects with this computing machine here ;)  then yesterday i made two more batches with what i think may have been a 66% water (1 cup bread flour, 2/3 cup water). I guess i might mention how i don't have a kitchen-aid, so all of my kneading is completely by hand... after 45 minutes of kneading i had something close enough to bread dough to stop... yeah, glutton for punishment that i am, then i decided to make more, with double the bread flour and water so i could bake it today and take it to some friends... after two hours and what i suspect is a bruised spinal column, i again had a sufficiently firm bread dough.  i'll post pictures once i can figure out these machines.

even though i vowed never to bake again, today i got some KA white whole wheat and, after reading the posts about how less gluten flours are better for baguettes (i think thats what they said), i've mixed 2/3 cup bread, 2/3 cup AP, 2/3 cup white whole wheat, 1-1/3 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon yeast, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  this mix has resulted in a thicker batter that hopefully won't take 2 hours to bring together.

so i'll put my pictures up on my blog page thing-- is there some kind of guide for this site?

Thanks again,