A baker's interview and the baguette
Recently I had an interview with a bakery in hopes that I'd be able to secure an internship for after my schooling. I need some technical training working in a high production environment, and this place was amazing, they had beautiful bread and several varieties of pastries besides. Possibly the best baked goods I'd seen in a bakery.
The interview consisted of me working with baguettes at various levels of development. We ended the day mixing baguette dough and reserving pate fermentee, and we started the day by shaping loaves and loading proofed baguettes into the oven. It was an incredibly informative and educational experience to say the least.
The dough that we used wasn't very wet, but baguette shaping being what it is, tends to stick to the bench. Liberal flour dustings were very useful, and if you dust with the right amount of flour, by the time you're finished shaping the baguettes, any excess flour has been pounded into the dough (which could be good or bad, depending on how anal you are). Without the flour, the dough sticks, and your shaping gets extremely rough (the only thing I got reprimanded for!). I'd never used a couche before, I'd always thought it unnecessary and cost prohibitive, but I had to use one to proof my baguettes, so I found you can only move them without damaging them too much if you pick them up from above and not below.
Remember to dust your dough when shaping, pick dough up from above, and make sure your seam is on the bottom!
I used the bakery formula (slightly derived) to bake some baguettes at school: