The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

New Baguettes and a few buys

sergio83's picture

New Baguettes and a few buys

Hi All,

I tried again with the baguettes.  This time I used 1.25 cups of flour and .5 cup of water, 1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast (i bought the glass jar in spite of some of ya'll's advice so i'll be using it for a while.) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt (i should've used more salt)...

So, does it count as an autolyzing if I've already added the yeast and the salt? Since i've got the active dry stuff i have to soak it first and since i'm using so little water i don't have enough to divide it.

Anyway, the dough was a lot firmer than I'm used to and I'm thinking I might try an extra .25 cup of water to see what happens.  I transferred the shaped baguette onto a hot cookie sheet and that seems to have helped with oven spring.  This time the shaping was a lot better-- I took occidental's advice and dusted the flour with a sifter and that combined with how the dough was a lot more dry than what I've been using so I managed to shape a pretty pretty loaf.

My knife obviously isn't cutting it ;) when it comes to scoring.  I went to the local wal-mart to look for straight razors (is that what they're called... oops, double edged razors) well, the saleslady looked at me like i was crazy.  I also went to the hardware store to find drop canvas-- more on that in a bit-- and some quarry stones.  All the tiles they had were glazed.  There's this place down the road that has a lot of rocks and stuff so maybe they'll have some.

The bread came out a bit darker than I like and i'm not too crazy about the taste of it.  Also it's missing some salt... actually, i've got some more dough in the fridge, let me go add salt to that now...

I'll let you all know what happens when you add salt 10 hours into a cold fermentation/rising.

Here's the crumb

The bread came out sort of dry but that may have been because i tried baking at 500 for the first 10 minutes-- i won't try that again...

I don't reckon I'll count this as a victory-- except for the shaping; it's the best shaping i've been able to manage so far...

I think i put too much salt in the dough for next time... it'll be a half teaspoon for ~1.25 cups of flour.

anyway, regarding couches-- i went to the hardware store and got canvas drop cloth.  It says it's heavy-duty tight cotton weave, absorbent, washable and reusable, 8.oz. 4'x5' finished size

sorry about it being sideways... and here's as good a closeup of the weave as i could get with my camera

It's still in the plastic in case i've made a terrible mistake I can return it.

Does anyone know whether it'll work or not?  By the way, I need to wash it (with bleach as well as detergent?) then once it's dry rub flour into the weave?  is that how one turns it into a couche?


pmccool's picture


I see that rainbowz already answered your questions about the dropcloth in another thread.

Here's where weighing the ingredients makes life easier for the baker.  Your 1.25 cups of flour may weigh anywhere from 5 ounces to 6.25 ounces, depending on how you load a cup.  The 0.5 cup of water will weigh 4 ounces.  (By the way, this all gets even easier if your measurements are in grams instead of ounces.)  The hydration of your dough was probably somewhere between 4/5 = 80% and 4/6.25 = 64%.  From your mention of the dough being stiffer than normal, I'd expect the hydration was at the lower end of the range I've quoted.  If you had flour on the countertop while kneading the dough, that will make it even drier.  Note that I'm not saying you have a problem here.  Rather, knowing the hydration helps understand the dough's behavior.

If you were to add another 0.25 cup of water to your next attempt, that could push the hydration numbers from 80% to 120% ([4+2]/5) and from 64% to 96% ([4+2]/6.25).  In other words, somewhere between soupy and very gloppy.  

Salt in most breads ranges between 1.5% and 2.5% (again by weight, not by volume), with many settling very near or slightly under 2%.  Since the weight of a particular salt relative to it's volume is highly influenced by grain size and shape, it's hard to say how much your 0.25 teaspoon actually weighed.  At a guess, and assuming that you are using a fine-grained table salt, I'd say that 0.5 teaspoon might be more to your taste.

The term autolyse refers to the practice of mixing some portion of the flour with most of the water in the formula and allowing that to sit for a time.  Time spans typically range between 30 minutes and 2 hours.  Then the yeast and the salt are worked into the dough in turn.  You can use some of the reserved water to make a slurry of each, which will make incorporating them into the dough easier.

You did fine purchasing active dry yeast in the jar.  It's certainly more economical than buying the foil packets.

I like the appearance of your loaf and the crumb.  Both are good for someone who is still acquainting themselves with this shape.  I would agree that 500ºF was too high an initial heat for such a small loaf, particularly if it was the only one in the oven.  You might want to start at 450ºF for the preheat on your next attempt, then drop it to 400ºF immediately after loading the bread in the oven.  

The baguette is one of the most difficult breads to get right.  I'm glad to see that you are making progress.


sergio83's picture

Thanks Paul...

Ay Paul, I'm sorry, I've no doubt you're right about the gloppy... and, well, think of my pigheadedness as an effort to prove you right... but for some reason I'm going to do it anyway-- I'm sorry!  I don't know how I got to be so stubborn and it's a wonder to me i've still got so many fingers considering how one would swear i was the type of child for whom "don't touch" was an invitation!  Nevertheless, I will tweak my measurements somewhat since I've already had enough fun with the very gloppy doughs... for now-- so you did save me from that.

And I am mustering all of my forces, so to speak, to invest in a scale-- I'll probably have to drive out to the target-- i forgot to look for one at the wal-mart but i did a good amount of browsing and don't remember seeing any scales... I've also seen some good ones online so there's that as a last resort. So your advice has helped nudge me along:) 

Thanks for the help, I have to say I'm amazed by how nice and helpful people can be?! I guess Blanche had it right when it came to the kindness of strangers!