The Fresh Loaf

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Help with Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette

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jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Help with Jeffrey Hamelman's Poolish Baguette

I've been trying this for the last 2 days.  The only thing I can do with this,  is to make it into at best a ciabatta type - too soft, and difficult to hold together dough. 


1st try - using the home formula, I divide by 3 to get the measurement,  as i didn't want to make too much.  Well,  after the 1st rise,  the dough was sticky and there was no way I could hold it together.  It just slumps down every time I try pulling it together.  So,  I thought perhaps I got my water and bread mixture all wrong.


2nd try - using the home formula again,  this time,  followed to the tee,  same results as above.  There was no way I could shape as it was too soft. 


Help!! Did anyone try this exact home formula?  What did I do wrong?

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Someone has said, "Baguettes are 10% ingredients, and 90% technique." There are many TFLer's that make baguettes routinely with much higher hydration percentages, e.g. 70% to 75%, and do so spectacularly. 


From your description of your dough as 'sticky", "slumps down", and, "...no way I could shape...". I suspect you are not developing the gluten well enough, but without more detail of what you "did to the tee" or how you did it, all we can do is guess. 


Superficially, I've checked my edition of Bread, and the 66% hydration is supported by the weights of flour and water listed in the "Overall Formula" and are carried accurately through the remainder of the formula. At that hydration percentage you should have no difficulty shaping the dough if its gluten network is well developed.


I suggest you read a few of the detailed baguette making postings within TFL, and watch a few baguette making, or dough handling videos. The "search" utility on the left hand side of the home page will guide you.


David G

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

It sounds too much like Reverse Osmosis water.  Can that be?  It can be very frustrating for bread baking.


I went thru the math and it is easy to mess up the oz.  One third comes out to 10.66 oz flour/ 7.06 oz water / .2 oz salt / .o43 oz yeast  for a total dough weight of 17.59 oz or 1 lb 1.59 oz.  or 1.099 lbs  Did you weigh the total dough?  Did you use cups?


This stands out:   "the dough was sticky"


It shouldn't be.  And you had success with other recipes using the same flour...  taste the flour anyway and check it for freshness.


The only thing goofy about the recipe is a typo in the Metric column, under final dough, a slip in typing the poolish amount.  It reads 6.067 and should read 6.607.


 

davidg618's picture
davidg618

Mini,


I'd never heard of this before your post. Initially it made sense to me, but then doubt crept in. Is it really the result of removing the water's mineral content? Doesn't the mineral content of the flour replace what R/O removes? 


I searched the site, but, frankly, was disappointed in what I found re what causes the effect--Though long retired, I'm still cursed with my engineer/scientist's curiosity. Can you elaborate, or point me at a helpful link or two?


David G

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

i was using my scale that has oz,  and perhaps I made a mistake in the water measurement. I should convert it to grams,  as i have more sense of this metrics.   I didn't weigh the total final dough,  so not sure if I got all the measurement right.


As for the flour,  I've used up the full pack,  after these 2 tries,  didn't check the freshness.  It could be that this pack of flour is not good.  I've got pretty good success with this particular flour that I used. German type 550.

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Jenny, I made the home formula the day before Easter, but shaped the dough into rolls and one batard.  I thought the dough handled very nicely - not at all sticky.  It was the first time I had made that receipe and I followed the formula precisely.


I used KAF AP flour.  I believe you are in China and wonder what type of flours are available to you.

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

I was using German Flour 550.  I wonder if perhaps I should lessen the water as I believe this flour is lighter than the US types eg Gold Medal.  


By the way,  I made them into rolls and oblong shape.  Still edible,  like what Mini mentioned,  perhaps this flour has gone bad,  and I didn't check.  The bread looks a bit more yellow than usual on the inside.  This flour is bleached,  rightfully,  it should be whiter than unbleached flour.

Sedlmaierin's picture
Sedlmaierin

According to my book"Knuspriges Brot aus dem eigenen Ofen" by Fahrenkamp, 550 flour 10.6g Protein(Eiweiss) per 100g. So that is way less than what I believe the KA AP flour has.


I don't know yet enough about the chemistry/science behind bread baking and don't know if using a weaker flour means one can make adjustments in the handling of the dough, but some more experienced bakers might be able to pitch in here.

wally's picture
wally

As with the other comments above, I too was struck by your reference to sticky dough.  This could be from undermixing, but it could also be caused by an overripe poolish.  Poolish is very tricky in that an overripe one will have too much protease activity which will subsequently break down the gluten structure in your dough.


Some signs of overripe poolish: 1- a high water mark from which it has receded, 2- dough which is overly sticky after a thorough mixing, 3- dough which seems to be 'sweating' after you've folded it, and 4- dough which is sticky during shaping and which lacks any 'backbone' (this can also be caused by improper shaping techniques).


In my experience, if you suspect your poolish is overripe, it is best NOT to proceed, because I don't know of any antedote other than to start over.  At that point, you're only going to be throwing good dough after bad.


I'm attaching a shot of a fully ripened poolish.  You'll notice that there are no 'high water' marks, that there is a presence of lots of little bubbles (which you can watch breaking the surface) that are forming rivulets, and if you look closely you'll see that it is just beginning to 'crater' in the center, an indication that it's reached full ripeness.



Hope this helps.


Larry

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Larry - this is really helpful.  My situation fits scenario 2 & 3 that you describe.  As for the over riped poolish,  I don't remember that it was in the form that you described.  I stuck the poolish in fridge for 12 hours or so, as the temperature was getting a little warm than ideal of 70 degrees F as described in JF's book.  


What do you mean when you say the dough is "sweating"?  


I was able to pull the dough together before the 1st rise.  However, I noticed that the stickiness worsen after the 1st rise. the dough just stretches,  and won't break at  all,  totally lacks body,  which was near impossible to even touch it.  


Even when I throw flour around it,  unlike ciabatta which holds its shape,  this one just won't unless I throw a lot more flour than usual, and really work quite hard to pull it together,  or just leave it untouched.  

wally's picture
wally

Jenny - Once you've folded the dough and are allowing it to continue its bulk fermentation you'll find (after a bit) that the surface of the dough is actually wet - almost like condensation except there is no condensation.  So I call it 'sweating.'


I've worked with poolish baguette dough extensively, and I've gone through the whole bread cycle of a bad poolish - there are signs at each stage, though frankly, if the dough is excessively sticky after the mix (and Hamelman's is a fairly 'dry' 66% hydration), that's the first sign that things are awry.


Larry

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Jenny,


It is unlikely that this flour will have been bleached.   Chlorinated flour has been banned here in the EU for nearly 10 years now I believe!


However, if it has been bleached this will have a seriously detrimental affect on a flour at 10.6% protein, as the chlorine has a de naturing affect on the protein in the flour.   That is why it is popular as a cake flour.


Maybe I could point out that the recipe will have been written for a UK audience, and that 10.6% is a reasonable protein level found in flour here; unless Dan asks for Strong flour [sorry I don't have his book to hand], which has a protein content of c12% and is actually a lot closer to what US TFLers would consider as AP.


Plain fact is that AP does not exist as a flour grade readily available on retail shelves in the UK [Dan Lepard's base].   You can have strong or plain.  The one Jenny has is bang in between the 2 grades, and would be typical of what is offered to commercial bakers only as "Bakers Grade", our nearest equivalent to US All-Purpose!


Is there not a "best before" date on the package?


Best wishes


Andy

ananda's picture
ananda

My apologoies, I've just been reading another post discussing difficulty making one of Dan Lepard's recipes.


Given Jeffrey Hamelman is Director of Bakery at King Arthur, it is reasonable to assume his formula is designed to use King Arthur All Purpose.   In which case the 10.6% German flour is not really strong enough.


Again, I'm really sorry; I have been reading through a lot of posts in the last half hour.


Best wishes


Andy

pdiff's picture
pdiff

I just baked this today as well and also found it a tad wet for my liking.  I'll need to watch the poolish more closely in the future, altough mine did not appear over ripened.  Perhaps an autolyse or more folds would help here.  JH does not autolyse this dough and it recieves only one fold.  My baguettes formed ok, but they slumped a bit in the bake.

victoria louise's picture
victoria louise

Hi there!


I can relate to your sticky problem.  Humidity and flour brand can make a huge difference in your final product.  If you feel the water percentage is too high for YOUR baking environment, decrease the amount little by little, making sure you are able to replicate your results (taking good notes) if you get it right.  I often adjust my recipes to suit my kitchen.  It has been my experience that using superior flour like King Arthur bread flour makes a big difference.  Are you using a couche?  I like to use a couche when making french bread.  I dust my couche with flour, which might take a little of the excess moisture out, but as you probably know, helps maintain a nice round shape until you are ready to bake.  The time between removing the bread from the couche, slashing it, and placing it in the oven is short enough that the shape of your bread will be maintained.


Remember, every kitchen environmnet is different, and can have substantial effect on finished product when it comes to bread. 


Good Luck!!!!  Keep trying!  And as was said in an earlier response, technique is truly the most important factor in making French bread.  I've made it every day for four years, and still have days that my bread is less than perfect.


 

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

I guess I'll try another type of flour as suggested by Andy.  It could be.  And the weather is changing here as well,  a lot more warmer plus more humid,  which I probably need to take into consideration as suggested by Victoria.  Larry - thanks for the explanation on over-riped Poolish, I always thought that more taste will be developed if you put it longer aside.  I didn't realise that poolish can over-ripe,  now I know.  Will watch for the signs. 


I'm not giving up yet.  Will try again and again like everyone here.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I can honestly tell you my baguettes weren't ones for looks when I used local Chinese flour.  I needed to learn how to score them better.  I think the gluten level is between 7 and 8%.  But with options of milk powder and use of egg whites in the liquids and more flour (it absorbs so little moisture) I managed. 


China is one of the world's largest manufacturers of Vital Wheat gluten.  After all the bad melamine press tho, I still prefer not to use it.  You can still turn out decent white bread. 


I think the poolish got out of hand, you could try putting much less yeast into the poolish. Keep track of the temperatures.  I baked with a lot with local walnuts in China, the season is coming to an end until fall, so pick some up now if you still see them and like walnuts.


Mini

jennyloh's picture
jennyloh

Mini - Interesting note that China is the largest manufacturers of Vital Wheat Gluten.  The local flour has no indication of the ingredients on them.  I did buy a locally produced organic stone milled flour which more yellow than normal flour.  I'm not sure if its pure wheat flour or mixed with anything.  I've since put aside for the time being.  


Walnuts - yes, plenty over here. Roasted,  not roasted.  They have beautiful almonds too.... And  I just did Walnut bread -2 weeks ago. Here's some pics.  Didn't manage to update my blog until recently.