The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Burst Baguettes

jstires's picture
jstires

Burst Baguettes

Help!! My baguettes keep bursting at the seems. It's as if there's a giant bubble of gas within the loaf... but there isn't. The crumb is open and airy; very artisan. (There are no instructions for attaching a pdf... if you know of any, please share with me, I'm new to forums... fora? I have several pics.)


I've been baking baguettes for about five years... 3 to 6 days a week. The only ongoing problem is this outrageous bursting out... oven spring on steroids. I've allowed the dough to ferment for every time period on the clock, from Baby Bear to Papa Bear and it's never 'just right'. 


I wrestle with shaping somewhat and have tried nineteen different methods... but my baguettes still burst!


I'm happy to share my recipe/formula/method if I get a request. It's pretty wet but the flavor is unreal. 


thanks in advance for your assistance,


Calvinator

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi jstires, 


You might find this link helpful.


Photos are generally .jpg files, not .pdf.  Check out the FAQ - there's info on how to post photos there.


Hope this helps...

Chausiubao's picture
Chausiubao

If you're proofing perfectly, make sure you seam is on the bottom of the baguette, and make sure the seam hasn't twisted around at the ends. Even if you get a perfect proof, if theres a seam exposed, it'll burst.


--Chausiubao

mcs's picture
mcs

Are you baking them on a stone, pan, pan w/parchment, cornmeal, or perforated pan?
Have you tried different scoring methods and do you still get the big bubbles?


If you score them and they can't expand in length or width they'll bubble UP.  If they get stuck to the pan/stone and can't grow in length (but only in width), the bubbles have nowhere to go but side to side and up.


-Mark


http://TheBackHomeBakery.com

jstires's picture
jstires

Baking on a stone, preheated using convection bake to 500 for 45 mins minimum; it's a hottie by the time they arrive. I use the steam method a la "BBA" and they arrive slashed every which-a-way on parchment... which I typically remove after 4 mins or so. It seems to allow the bottoms to crust up nicely-er (hey, a new verb and a new adverb; hmm, cool. baking IS fun!) They don't get 'stuck' at all and I'm beginning to suspect shaping as being the culprit. The loaf you see in my picture had a fold in its bulge... something we all should avoid. 


The sort of consensus/non-consensus is shaping and fermentation time... both of which have had their own close scrutiny. I think I'll switch to mini baguettes... that'll give me more test subjects to torture. One thing's fer sher; they're fabulously delicious. I sub a couple of ozs/57 gm KAF white whole wheat and 2 heaping Tbs of diastatic malt powder. Best bread I've ever had anywhere... and after five years of making all kinds of mistakes, that says a lot.


Thanks for your help everyone... shape and fermentation (I'm going with shape... now let me get my hands on those minis.)

mcs's picture
mcs

I don't know your current shaping method, but if you'd like to try an alternate method, here's a short baguette shaping video I did working with 75% hydration dough.


-Mark

jstires's picture
jstires

I misspoke when I misspelled 'seams' in my first post; they're NOT bursting 'at the seems [sic]'. If I didn't think I was doing everything just right it wouldn't be such a mystery. Proofing times, slashing, steam; they all 'seem' to be correct. And I've used a dozen different shaping techniques...


So... thanks again for your advice.


js

AndyM's picture
AndyM

What do you use to score the baguettes?  And you say they arrive slashed "every which-a-way" - what do you aim for when you score them?  Baguettes have always seemed to me to be less forgiving of minor mistakes or inaccuracies in scoring than other shapes of loaves.


Just wondering,


Andy

jstires's picture
jstires

I have scored loaves with every implement in my kitchen, settling in on a razor. A lamé escapes my dexterity and knives & scissors seem silly after awhile. I typically slice four to six times per loaf across the top third as is "normal" (heh, heh). I'm making minis today and will experiment with shaping AND scoring. Thanks!

davidg618's picture
davidg618

If your one picture is representative of all of your baguettes, i.e. tight in the center and bursting near the ends, it may be your baking method. 


I also had this happening when I baked baguettes in the convection mode. The rear fan, only on during convection mode, was drying out the dough's surface in the center of my baguettes. The internal gas took the path of least resistance and burst out at the end-most scorings. The clue finally reached me when I noticed it was most severe in the rear-most baguette (closest to the fan) and graduated outward. Some times the baguette closest to the door didn't burst at all, so I was initially suspicious of my shaping and slashing (both still need work).


Since discovering my problem was the convection fan, which has no manual off/on switch, I pre-heat in convection mode, bake and steam in the conventional ("bake") mode, and return to convection mode after removing the steam.


I haven't had a burst baguette since, and the baked shape of my baguettes is generally more uniform than before adapting this procedure.


David G.

jstires's picture
jstires

I very-often will leave it in convection  mode at 500° for the first 3 - 4 mins during initial steaming to insure the oven remains hot. I don't recall any particular bursting pattern as it pertaing to closeness to the fan (all electric). I DO notice that most of the steam is ejected into my kitchen, but... hmmm....


Methinks you might have something there... thanks very much for your insight. I'm about to pre-shape five mini-baguettes and will turn off convection before I slash this afternoon... that should completely eliminate any "fan"atical effects convection might have.


More later... and thanks again,


js

Boboshempy's picture
Boboshempy

Can you please share your recipe/formula/method?


Thanks,


Nick

wally's picture
wally

Calvinator- I'm wondering if this might not be the culprit.  I don't know how big your mix is, but if you're talking home baking, "2 heaping Tbs of diastatic malt powder" is like injecting the yeast in your dough with steroids.


I guess I'm wondering more generally why you're even using malt powder in a baguette mix?


Larry

proth5's picture
proth5

I just took a look at the formula and saw the 2 T of diastatic malt powder.


Just to add perspective, less that 1/8 tsp of this stuff to 2 lbs (still can't do gms...) of home miled flour had significan impact on how the dough made with it handled and rose. 


Perhaps cutting back would be wise. 


The sweetness could be replaced by using regular malt powder if a sweeter bread is desired.

jstires's picture
jstires

Hi Larry and thanks for your comments. I know it's been a very long time and hundreds of loaves later but I was searching inder 'convection' and found my old post.
I'm having far fewer burst baguettes. 2 T's of malt was too much. I'm now using 1 t per Reinhart's BBA pâte fermentée baguette formula's baker's notes. Without the malt the finished baguettes are pale and pasty looking.

i've had great success and as a photographer always looking for that 'cover shot' I can readily say that I'm getting very, very close with my baguettes. Yay.

Thanks again, best to you and yours

jstires's picture
jstires

My four newest minis are testimony to my first post; that dang things burst open yet again. I've been out of malt for a few weeks (thanks for the thought Wally) … its addition doesn't seem to make any difference beyond marvelous flavor.

Here's my formula (grams/spoons)
Evening's Poolish:
140 KAF Bread Flour
114 Water; filtered twice
~ ⅛ t SAF Red Instant Yeast
Morning's dough:
Poolish
360 KAF Bread Flour
57 KAF White Whole Wheat
2 T Diastatic Malt (unless I run out)
220 Water
1 t Yeast
1 ½ t Salt
Mix all but salt; let flour hydrate (autolyze) for 20 - 40 mins before adding salt.
Mix/Knead in KA 6-qt stand mixer using SideSwipe beater blade and dough hook.
Dough rises, doubling twice at room temp (68° - 74°).
I then pre-shape into boules and let rest, covered for 20  mins.
I use typical shaping techniques (per books,  'net and DVD's) to form baguettes.
They rest in a couche for 60 -75 mins or so and easily pass the finger-poke test.
I solidly preheat to 500° using convection for 45 mins (electric) and bake (without convection) at 450°.
I slash using typical techniques w razor, lamé or scalpel, usually at a 25°-45° angle.
I bake with steam a la BBA for 14 to 18 minutes after steaming.

I scratch my head, wondering why these delicious babies burst open.

I give away the prettiest and eat what's left. (Thanks for the skinny genes, Mom.)

There ya have it; what the heck am I doing to create all this commotion? … and thanks all for your advice.
js

LindyD's picture
LindyD

First let me say that if you love your bread, that's all that counts.


I am curious, however, why you filter the poolish water twice.  Is there something horrible about your tap water?


Do you use a reverse osmosis filter by chance?


Also, since you filter the poolish water, is there a reason you do not filter the water for the dough?

jstires's picture
jstires

I have a Britta pitcher and an R/O unit from which I fill it... strictly convenience. I use the same water for both recipes. I figured it couldn't hurt and it's very convenient having a pitcher right on the counter next to my scale/flour/mixer/etc.


I'm totally ignorant about diastatic malt. I happened to have ordered some once and dumped a heap of it into my baguette recipe once and violá; they became even more delicious-er-er. (Oh boy, I made up yet another word!)


The postman just rang twice and brought me my latest malt order so I'll be back to doing silly things that taste wonderful.


I just might try regular ol' malt powder... might be too sweet. Cutting back just might have some merit... thanks proth.


Oh, and because of the fact that my oven vents the steam right out of my oven the minute I start the process, I turned it off completely for a couple of minutes today. I use boiling water (yea, yea; filtered, just once though!) and a ketchup squirter bottle.The crust seems to have responded favorably.


I have a broiler-pan bottom on the bottom of the oven. On top of that I put a black (just 'cuz that the color it is) cookie sheet (not a regular half-sheet pan) leaving a three-inch gap to squirt boiling water into and onto (zat a word?). I can generate a great deal of instant steam by squirting a goodly portion of boiling water both INTO the pan and ONTO the cookie sheet. My stone's two positions above the black sheet pan.  I figure this setup would cool my stone the least when I squirt water into the oven.


Thanks again all,


js

AndyM's picture
AndyM

I was wondering about the steam venting, when you said that your steam tended to end up out in your kitchen.  Most home ovens are built to vent steam (and heat) into the kitchen.  This is a safety feature, but it can really interfere with effective steam for bread baking.  Did turning the convection off make the steam stay in the oven better for those first 15-20 minutes?

jstires's picture
jstires

No... even regular bake vents; it didn't seem to make any difference in the amount of steam lost on either setting.


I've only tried this once... and that is turning the oven off altogether for a couple of minutes after the third squirting. The crust was exceptionally nicer. Was it the trick that helped? More experimentation is due over the weekend.

AndyM's picture
AndyM

I find it surprising how much steam needs to be in close contact with the loaf in the first 15 or so minutes of baking.  Commercial ovens have a venting mechanism that is kept fully closed at first, and when it is opened, the steam comes pouring out.  Home ovens are built to have open vents; one has to work very hard to find them and close them off if steam is to be kept inside the oven for more than a couple of minutes.  I have done this with some home ovens, with some success, but it is a potentially dangerous thing to do - those vents are there for safety; the oven is designed to work with the vents open.  So I have never been very comfortable blocking them off.  What I do now is I bake in a covered pot.  Others have described using a baking cloche with similar results.  By creating a close, covered environment around the loaf, the water on the surface of the dough, which boils off very quickly, produces its own steam.  Because the cloche is small, that steam has nowhere to go, so it just stays right there, contacting the surface of the developing loaf.  My results with the covered pot have been vastly better than any other steaming method I have tried in a home oven.  And it requires no spritzing, no extra cookie sheet in the oven, and best of all, no blocking of the vents.


Steam has a number of benefits in baking artisan breads - one of them is evenness of bloom.  As breads spring in the first several minutes of baking, the steam keeps the outer surface of the loaf moist and elastic, so it can expand with the spring.  If there is not enough steam, then parts of the outer surface start to dry out - they lose their elasticity, and those areas become prone to blow-outs.  This often results in irregular-looking final loaves, with some areas of wonderful expansion and bloom (where the outer surface stayed a bit more moist) and some areas that look either compact and dull (from dough that dryed out too early and simply did not expand) or explosive and irregular (also from dough that dryed out too early, but with pressure that built from inside that cause an eruption through the dryed-out area).  It's surprising how much benefit adequate steam can have in the evenness of the final product.

AndyM's picture
AndyM

There's one more thing about evenness that might be at play too.  And that is the cuts themselves.  From the picture in your avatar, it looks like there are four cuts on the baguette - from left to right, it looks like cuts 2 and 4 opened up beautifully, while 1 and 3 expanded a bit but did not bloom.  I would suggest two things about the scores:


1) be sure that the cuts are equal in depth, in length, and in angle.  I would argue that for baguette scoring, this evenness is even more important than the angle the lame is held at.  This might be different from the standard advice - most people claim that the angle of the lame is essential for encouraging bloom.  I have found excellent results using a lame (with a curved blade) cutting the dough at a perfect perpendicular.  I bring this up because I find it much easier to get even cuts when not worrying about the angle of the lame.


2) a part of the evenness is the symmetry of the cuts.  Check out this picture:



(I stole this from the wild yeast blog site - hope they don't mind).  The dotted lines show how the start of each cut is in a perfect line with the start of all of the other cuts.  The same is true for the ends of all of the cuts.  Two other things are apparent in the picture.  First, the cuts stay very much in the center of the baguette - they don't extend all the way to the side.  This blog says to stay within the middle 1/3 of the loaf.  That's a lot of territory left unscored on either side of each cut (1/3 of the loaf on either side!). I usually aim for keeping the cuts in the middle 2/3 of the loaf, with about 1/6 of the loaf unscored on either side.  The second thing is the overlap of the cuts.  The blog states that each cut should overlap with about 1/3 of the length of the previous cut.  I usually aim for 1/2.  The differences between the blog's recommendations and my preferences are exactly that - preferences.  They can give you a range of targets to shoot for though, so you can find what you like.


As I look at the picture of your baguette, it looks like your cuts might extend too far out to the sides of the loaf, and they might be a bit too cross-angled (that is, more cross-wise than lengthwise).  The cross-angling looks particularly severe in cut 1.


Finally, I would suggest that you ensure that your cuts are straight.  The pleasant s-curve of a baguette's cuts comes from the curve of the blade cutting across a slightly curved top of the loaf.  The baker doesn't have to make a curved cut for this to happen.  I have seen many people try to make an s-curved cut in baguettes, and this usually results in a twisted, barber-shop pole appearance to the final loaf.


Hope to see some pictures of your experiments, along with some descriptions of what you found to work for you.  And as LindyD said above, if you love your bread, that's ultimately all that counts.


Andy

jstires's picture
jstires

Thanks, Andy; you took a great deal of time and effort in your explanation and I really appreciate it. It's funny, when my bread turns out especially well I'm asked what I did differently and without exception I reflect on the fact that I followed the proper techniques more closely to the letter... this stuff makes a difference and you've pretty-much hit the nail on the head.


In fact, all the info has been helpful. It seems that I've been a little sloppy with the way I bake... no one actually said so but it's time for some proper diligence and responsibliity!


Thanks again... more to come!

jstires's picture
jstires

I discovered I have an old Haliburton drawn aluminum case that I used once in twenty years. It's 11" x 19"; 6: high. I can remove the handle, lock and rubber gasket, leaving only metal parts. What's left is what just might be a steaming box. Someone please tell me where I might be going wrong here but this seems to make sense to an old inventor like me. I can line the bottom with tiles without as much as a hiccup. STOP ME if I'm thinking a little sideways… this is all flowing a little too easily. The case has little value otherwise and baking it would probably be a one-way trip for it. As always; thanks for your input and assistance.

jstires's picture
jstires


davidg618's picture
davidg618

Do it!


Let us all know the results.


David G


P.S. I think you might also scrape the decals off the top:-)

jstires's picture
jstires

unless and until the vote was in as to wheter or not my idea has any merit whatsoever. Or I'm just completely nutz.


I just cut my thumb half off when secrewing a lid onto a a glass jar (of chocolate sauce, heated as per instructions in m/wave oven). The jar came apart at the top and the 'part' that seems to be the sharpest wanted to see the inside of my opposing digit. Oops.


So it'll be a few days. Dang; to stitch or not to stitch... I hate what that happens; phooey.

RobynNZ's picture
RobynNZ

Camping while filming wildlife in Tanzania over the years, we enjoyed many delicious loaves made by the Gibbs Farm camp cooks, which they baked in a large metal case on the camp fire. Sortachef has posted about this and includes a photo, the large case is at the back:


http://www.woodfiredkitchen.com/?p=572

jstires's picture
jstires

was as good as their coffee and the experiences that followed at Ngorongoro Crater were life-changing. Thanks for the memories and the web site.


j