The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Third Strike: French Bread Baguettes

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zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

Third Strike: French Bread Baguettes

I followed Reinhart’s BBA French bread recipe and instructions as closely as possible. My pate fermentee fermented for 1 hour at then put it in the refrigerator for 1 ½ days. I noticed that it had doubled in size while in the fridge. I didn’t expect such a rise. I mixed the final dough using a smidge over a teaspoon of barley malt syrup, reduced the water to compensate and added about a tablespoon of flour while kneading. I added the malt because last time I made this recipe I got poor rise. The primary fermentation lasted 2 hours, temp 76°F, humidity 51%. I proofed the baguettes for 1 hour 45 minutes, temp 78°F, humidity 51%. This was longer than I expected but it looked about 1 ½ times bigger though I am not a good judge of peak rise. I slashed with a bread knife and put them in a 500°F oven with steam pan and misting oven walls. I baked on a sheet pan because I don’t have tiles. The oven temp was lowered to 450°F for 20 min, then at 375°F for 30 min then at 350°F for 20 min. I checked the internal temperature of the bread every ten minutes of bake time and it never got above 170°F after a total bake time over 70 minutes. The bottom of the bread was black and I gave up and pulled them out. I have a brand new oven with an additional oven thermometer inside to monitor the temperature. I am new to artisanal bread making but I am determined. Here is a picture of my poor friends. I am unhappy with the crumb and the thick crust.


 

Comments

reyesron's picture
reyesron

I made Hamelman French Baguettes Saturday, using a beautiful poolish I made Friday night and got pretty much the same exact results you did.  Maybe we live near each other and have the same weather, or a bad batch of King Arthur UBF.  I don't know what it was, but I just tossed it this morning as something I don't want to eat, or even look at today.  Mixed up a Lahey whole wheat no knead to go with dinner tonight, I hope that proves to be foolproof.  


Ron

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

when you open the door to check the loaf temp.  The heat drops at least 30% up to 50% or more depending on how long the door is open.  Really no need to check that frequently.  That would be my first guess.  If the loaves never got above 170 its because you allowed the heat to escape and thus you could never achieve a higher cooking temp.  The bottoms would burn because they are closest to the heat source which was constantly going on to try to acieve the set thermostat's temp and thus the bottom of the loaf had the most sustained and constant heat for a rather long time.  All that said, the loaves look good for a fr. bread baguette.  How was the taste?

asicign's picture
asicign

Something doesn't add up.  The bread was in the oven for a very long time to not be fully baked.  It looks like you are being very careful with your technique, so my suggestion would be to get a stone, and preheat the oven for an hour before baking.  The stone will help maintain the oven temperature.

mmelaprof's picture
mmelaprof

Can anyone tell me the difference?


I have the same problem, the air pockets are not large enough, but my crust is fine.  I also have a baking stone, but did not know to preheat it.  Thanks for that tip.

zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

Preheat for an hour? My house will be a sweat factory. It has been 95 degrees here in California's central valley. I may have to wait until winter to try that. That also brings up the point about quarry tiles. I have been unable to find any at local tile stores or Home Depot. The tile store had them but they had a minimum purchase of $50. This is the reason I don't have tiles yet.

zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

Thank you for your comments. The heat escaping is something I was also thinking about. Reinhart's instructions are to spray the walls every 30 seconds for the first 2 minutes. That is why the oven is set to 500. After that he suggested rotating after ten minutes of baking and so that is why I opened the oven again. The tops of the loaves were also browning though so that was why I turned the heat down even though my internal temps were low.

BerniePiel's picture
BerniePiel

the crust is getting to dark.  You would be better served by covering w/ foil rather than reducing the cooking temp.  Also, are you checking the temp from the bottom of the loaf.  This tip was given to me many months ago and proved really handy.  I honestly do believe that your problem was heat loss, but, as I said, the loaves look fine to me.  I can't really detect the burnt underside of the loaf, either.  When I cook baguettes, I use an intial temp of 475 which is on for a good 60 minutes to heat my oven stone which is 16x20x1--it takes awhile for the stone to heat up because of its mass.  I then add the loaf and use a garden sprayer at the top of the oven door and spray for 30 seconds or until I see steam coming out of the top of the door.  I repeat the steam once every 5 minutes for a total of 3 sprays max.  After 15 minutes, I lower the temp to 430 for another 20 minutes and I also turn the loaves on the stone so that they receive even heating.  After the final 20 minutes of baking time, I pull a loaf, with gloves, close the door and insert my probe thermometer to see how my loaf temp is doing.  I like to see a minimum range of 200--207, but I've seen as high as 220+ and the loaves were still fine.  If they are not at the minimum range, I'll leave them in for another 5 minutes and if they were close, I will not even check the temp but will turn off the oven, and open the door to its first detent and let it set for ten minutes.  The heat from the stone will make sure the inside is cooked through.  Good luck, Zorrambo.


 


Bernie Piel

reyesron's picture
reyesron

Bernie, you may be absolutely correct about the heat loss.  As I think about it, whenever I try a new bread I get a little too excited and want to keep checking on the progress, and the best way to see is to open the oven door, which is the worst thing to do.  The second part of my problem is that my stone broke last week and I can only bake two baguettes at a time, and the quality seems to go down with each baking, if I'm doing six loaves, two at a time.  My new stone will arrive tomorrow, so I'll just stay away from baguettes til it comes.  Thank you for the observation, I'll try to incorporate leaving the door closed from here on out. 

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Two years ago I had a chance to have a live chat with Peter Reinhart (as expert for "Fine Cooking"). I asked him about the misting the oven walls with spray in addition to pouring a cup of hot water in the steam pan (BBA) as opposed to just water in the steam pan (WGB). He said when he wrote the WGB book he had realized in the meantime that just water in the steam pan was enough to create sufficient steam, so that misting the walls was not really necessary.


 

zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

I am happy to hear that it may not be worth spraying the walls in addition to the steam pan. Thank you for your suggestion.

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

I've never had good luck with the BBA french bread recipe.  My suggestion: just use the pain a l'ancienne formula.  The result is infinitely superior, having both better flavour and a much nicer, more open crumb.

mmelaprof's picture
mmelaprof

Where does one find this recipe?

hanseata's picture
hanseata

There's one in the "Bread Baker's Apprentice" and in the "Artisan Breads for Every Day", both by Peter Reinhart. I bake them every week - they are a hot seller. I use a combination of both methods, it's easy and fast (the hands-on part) once you get the knack of it.


My advice: if you sprinkle the dough with a generous amount of flour before cutting it in slices (it's too wet to be shaped), the cutting and handling is much easier, since it doesn't stick to the bench scraper or your hands. I also let it sit for half an hour, instead of baking it right away, because I like it with bigger holes.


Preheat the oven to 550 F (with baking stone and steam pan) and bake the breads at 475 F using 1/2 cup of boiling water for steaming - misting the oven walls is not necessary. I use perforated baguette pans and convection, and my breads are done in 17 min. (rotating them after 9 min).


 

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

You have Reinhart's BBA, but haven't read it cover-to-cover?? :)



It's really the heart of that book... in fact, the pizza dough recipe in the BBA is inspired by the pain a l'ancienne approach (ie, wet dough with a long, cold proofing stage).  Try it out!  While the wet dough is a bit challenging to work with, in the end I find it actually easier to make than a traditional french loaf, as there's no real shaping involved, and you have an excuse for really terrible scoring. ;)

quickquiche's picture
quickquiche

Do you have a bulb in your oven you can switch on while you bake? I do this every time I bake bread. I can keep an eye on the bread without opening the oven...

alabubba's picture
alabubba

In my opinion the best baguette recipe


Anis Bouabsa's Baguettes


You should be able to buy a cheap pizza stone for less then 20.00 dollars at a kitchen supply store.

reyesron's picture
reyesron

I'm going to mix that up tonight when I get home.  They look wonderful.  As far as yet anther cheap pizza stone is concerned, they're piling up outside on my patio, cracked and useless.  I could have bought a couple of Fibraments by now.  My new Fibrament just arrived today and I have higher hopes for durability if not results.  I think what struck me about the Fibrament is that there are larger sizes available than the cheapies as well.  Ill be able to extend the length of my baguettes starting tomorrow.  I'm psyched!  Ron  

fancypantalons's picture
fancypantalons

Just FYI, a cracked pizza stone isn't useless.  It all depends on how it's busted.



For example, I managed to split my stone about 1/3rd of the way in.  But rather than throwing it out, I just lay the two pieces together in the oven and bake on them.  After all, people are willing to use tiles... I've just turned my pizza stone into a pair of tiles. :)

ejm's picture
ejm

My bread stone has been in three pieces for eons. I too just shove the pieces together and bake on them. No problem.


-Elizabeth

ejm's picture
ejm

If the bread is burning on the bottom, I'd try moving it up one shelf.


A stone is a great thing to have. You don't have to spend a fortune on it either. While we do have a really nice rectangular stone, we also have one of those thin round pizza stones (available at kitchen stores for about $10). We got it to use in the barbecue but have been using it the oven as well. It works really well and doesn't take quite as long to preheat.


Preheating for an hour seems unnecessary to me. Twenty minutes should be plenty.


And I would also be disinclined to spray the oven walls. I liberally spray our shaped loaves just before putting them in the oven so that the oven door is opened only twice for the whole baking time (the second time about half way through to turn the bread around to account for uneven oven heat).


But the major turnarounds in our baguette making were



  1. this shaping video

  2. refrigerating the shaped loaves overnight and baking them the next morning as per Rose Levy Beranbaum's instructions


-Elizabeth


Here is our recipe for baguettes based on one in The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

zorrambo's picture
zorrambo

Thank you for the video link. I see now that I was probably being to rough when shaping my baguettes and probably squeezing all the air out. I will also look into the Beranbaum recipe.

lief's picture
lief

I have another suggestion for avoiding burning the bottom of the a bread if you have no baking stone.  If you have a silicon baking mat, use that instead of baking parchment.  I find that if I don't use my baking stone, I will burn the bottom of pretty much any bread I make that bakes for more than 40 minutes or so if it is just on baking parchment.  I have solved this problem using a silicon baking mat.  The downside is that the bottom does not brown up as nicely as the top.  I would rather have bread with a bottom that is too light than burnt though!


Having made this bread myself, I also have to agree with fancypantalons that this BBA recipe is pretty boring, so you may be disappointed with your results even if you do everything perfectly.