The Fresh Loaf

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Problems with pain a l'ancienne baguettes

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bobh's picture
bobh

Problems with pain a l'ancienne baguettes

I've tried the pain a l'ancienne baguette recipe (with cold retardation) from the Bread Baker's Apprentice a number of times and haven't had much luck.  The baguettes come out with a very dense crumb.  I've been following the recipe exactly, varying only the amount of water I put in to try different "stickiness", but the results are all pretty much the same.  But, despite the crumb, they taste great! -which makes me want to perfect this recipe.  While what I've made is far from inedible, it's also far from ideal.


Any ideas on where I've gone wrong?


The recipe calls for instant yeast, and I'm using Fleishmann's RapidRise, which I've read is the same thing.  Is that true?  I've tried with active dry yeast, using around 1.5x the called-for amount, and had pretty much the same result.


 


Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!


 


 


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Kingudaroad's picture
Kingudaroad

I have made this recipe successfully with instant dry yeast following the book to the letter and the holes were nice and big. This formula, it seems to me, is supposed to slow down the yeast activity to enhance the flavor. "Rapid Rise" yeast may not be as suitable if it is, in fact, made to work fast. 


 


I would get some instant dry yeast and have another go at it.


 


Keith

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

This seems to be a common problem when baking from the BBA recipies and is exactly what happened to me when I went to bake rustic bread. Active dry yeast can't be added directly to the ingredients unless it's proofed first and then it doesn't have the strength of the instant yeast when used in such small quantities. I ordered instant yeast from Breadtopia and will be trying out French bread again this weekend.


Russ

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

Are you using a high-protein flour like KA Bread Flour? I've made this several times before to great result with KA Bread Flour. 


Have you tried varying your flour?


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You could also try letting them leaven longer before putting them in a very, very hot oven.


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You could also skip scoring them; I never score them. 


 

bobh's picture
bobh

I've been using KA Bread Flour, but haven't tried any other flours.  Is it worth trying with all purpose?


 


I've also tried varying the rise time, but have a hard time telling when it has doubled (I'm new to this baking thing, you see :).  With such a wet dough, the "two finger poke" test doesn't seem very accurate.  A few tries back I think I let it rise too much, and the bread came out flat.  The bread in the picture I let rise for 3 hours in my warm, humid kitchen  (I'm in VA).  BBA says 2-3 hours, or more.  Maybe I'm just yet to find that sweet spot...?


 


It doesn't look bad though, does it? :)  At least it looks and tastes good enough to keep me encouraged to try to get it right!


 


And I've done it with scoring and without, and always similar results.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

My best guess, then, is that you're handling it a bit too much, resulting in degassification (Is that a word? It is now!) 


Also, I note that PeterR's procedure has the loaves in the oven almost immediately after the 2-3 hour room temp rise (following the overnight fermentation/retardation), remove from bowl, cut-pinched into strips, onto sheet pan, AND into oven. 


I let them rise again for about an hour or two between cut-pinch and oven.


That's my procedure, though, not PeterR's.


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Also, my oven is just smoking hot (550 F) and I steam it within an inch of my facial skin right after I load the loaves (shaped and proofed on parchment) right onto the baking stone.


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Do you bake on the pan?


Or do you put the loaves (on parchment) on a stone?


That certainly could have something to do with it.

bobh's picture
bobh

I've been baking them on a room-temperature pan.  I don't own a stone.  Would that alone explain the lack of oven spring?  BBA says baking on the pan is an option.  Has anyone had luck doing it this way?


 

copyu's picture
copyu

It's not perfect, yet, but you are almost there!


Slashing/scoring the loaves is totally unnecessary with this one, in my opinion. (I just paid about $3 for a flute ancienne that looks very much like yours this afternoon!)


The baker that made mine probably used a tad more water in the formula and got those glorious, random holes that are not so prominent in your loaves.


Really great job, though! Keep up the experiments and PLEASE let us know all the gory details when you get it worked out. I tip my hat to you!


Sincere best wishes,


copyu


I'll be following your posts, bobh, so keep them coming, please! c.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

It is very unlikely this dough will ever double. If you do you will almost certainly overproof it. Bake early rather than take a chance on late. Your hydration looks way low - are you weighing? If so what hydration are you at? This is wet nasty stuff to deal with until you get comfortable with it. Lowering the hydration won't give the right result.


And, as many others have said....Don't slash! It is hard enough to get oven spring out of this dough when the gases don't have an easy exit (slash). 


The craziest part is I have never seen L'ancienne that didn't have large holes. But I have also never seen it be so "round". It typically oozes which is why I think your hydration is low!


Good Luck!


Jay

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

The width is thinner than any ancienne I've ever made too; was going to mention that, but not sure if that would be cause.


I've also never seen an ancienne without the big holes, so this is quite the mystery.

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

That's a really beautiful bread, btw.

sjburnt's picture
sjburnt

I would try a little more water, and a longer final proof.  You do have a lovely loaf, just as it is, but I understand what you are looking for...

Kingudaroad's picture
Kingudaroad

Reinhart does basically no shaping and very little final proofing, as stated earlier. Flop it on a floured counter, flour the top, cut into strips, stretch strips onto parchment, fire up the oven. I think he even recommends to put it in the fridge if you can not get it in the oven within an hour. Kind of makes it easy if you ask me. Hard to overwork and hard to over/under proof.


 

gingk's picture
gingk

I've baked this bread a number of times and have two suggestions...SAF instant yeast and more water.    Give it a try.

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

Good advice!


I use this recipe all the time - always use instant yeast, and I find myself adding more water, too. How much, I can't say - I just throw it in until it feels right. Also have learned not to handle it too much.


Right now I'm using a bread flour (Costco's 50lb bag - love it), but before I used a local, generic, unbleached AP flour (Shaw's Supermarkets). I like both flours, but I like this latest bread flour better.


To the OP: your baguettes look great. I also know what you are aiming for - with a little tweaking, you'll get there.

bobh's picture
bobh

Thanks everyone for your comments!  I've made two batches since the ones I originally posted, and I think I finally have it pinned.  I changed two things - (much) higher hydration, and I changed to Red Star's instant yeast.  Made all the difference in the world.  The baguettes came out ugly and delicious - just how I like them!


 



Kingudaroad's picture
Kingudaroad

Nice! Way to go!