The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Making that French Loaf

willchernoff's picture

Making that French Loaf

I've spent the last couple weeks working on a french style loaf.  I think my recipe and technique are getting better, so I figured I'd post my efforts for others to review.


Steps available:



1.  I've used this recipe with 17 oz of flour and 11 oz of water (a change from 62% to 65% water) which seemed to make a lighter/holier loaf (sorry but not pics).  Has anyone noticed this effect?  Also this change results in a softer dough, so I had to be quick about slashing the tops. 



2.  How can one prevent the razor from sticking to the dough when slashed?

3.  My oven doesn't conduct heat correctly when adding water for steam.  How does a spray bottle compare to a cup of water for producing steam?

dwcoleman's picture

2) You can try two things, wet your razor first before slashing, or let your dough "crust" over for 5 minutes then slash.


3) I'm not sure how its different, but you could try using water/ice in a pan, and then blocking the vent with a towel.

willchernoff's picture

These sound like reasonable replies.  I'll give them a shot the next time I bake bread.

jstreed1476's picture

I've moved away from the intensive steaming techniques that many others advocate because I fear that my oven's digital control panel can't handle it. I had to replace it (to the tune of $US200+) even though the oven wasn't very old.

I know modern ovens are mostly pretty crappy, but that warrants more, not less, caution. And while I can't prove conclusively that steaming caused the failure, well, I have my suspicions. Imagine if a repair guy asked, "Did you do anything out of the ordinary?" and your answer was, "Well, I dumped a bunch of water in a screaming hot oven, then blocked the vent." It's not unreasonable to conclude that the vapor, when prevented from going where it was meant to go, went instead where it was definitely NOT meant to go.

My solution is the "magic bowl" technique--which has dangers of its own, as I've scorched my fingers several times. But I'm very pleased with the results and recommend it often.

willchernoff's picture

What is this 'magic bowl' technique you speak of?

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz's picture

Great & thorough blog, too! It's interesting to see how someone else kneads dough - I'm going to try your techniques. I only wish this heat wave would break. I have no a/c, but just bought a giant bag of bread flour at Costco yesterday for the first time. I'm so tempted to try it out, despite living in what feels like an oven right now.

You have a beautiful crumb w/this - and while I've been thrilled w/some of the baguettes I've made (need to post some photos), I've never heard that crackling. Way to go!!

On the other hand, I have a bit of hearing loss, so I might just be oblivious to it. ;-)



Salaheldin's picture

2- leave the loaves after shaping without covering for ten miniuits then slash.

3- heat 1/3 of a cup in the microwave then throw into the oven, the mist bottle is not enough for the entire oven, you can mist with it the loaves itself. 

salma's picture

Good looking loaves and crumb too.  I usually dip my blade in the flour for each slash and seems to move well.


fastmail98's picture

I'm having problems getting my baguettes to look more like baguettes and less like dog bones. Should I proof the dough in a batard shape and then shape into baguettes and then bake? I'm currently shaping baguettes for proofing and then baking. They do have a rather 'rustic' look to them, but I want to acheive the classic baguette look. Any suggestions?

Franko's picture

Here's a link to a video posted recently by David Snyder. It's a very good demo on shaping.