The Fresh Loaf

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Sexy Baguette

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RobertS's picture
RobertS

Sexy Baguette

Tried to improve crust and crumb and flavour and feel I hit paydirt with this one. It is basically a BBA L'Ancienne with some Bertinet folding, then 3 bouts of S&F spaced 20 min apart,before cold fermenting for 15 hours. Next day, noticed considerable rise in fridge,which I attribute to the S&F-ing, but it still took 4 more hours to warm up and continue fermenting, at which point I divided and stretched into 6 baguettes and one pot bread and proofed baguettes on parchment. 45 min later, slipped onto hot stone. Now here was the radical (for me) departure: I steamed with lava rocks and 3 spritzes, per usual, but used a cupful of room temperature (not boiling) water twice --- right away, and after 3 minutes. The water was stlll there 24 minutes later when I pulled them out of oven, after 1/2 convection, and one-half regular oven, at 455 degrees --- 20 degrees cooler than usual.


Crust was thin and just right amount of chewiness, and though appropriately red wine-dark, very similar in texture to Parisian traditonal baguette. To this point my crust had been a bit too firm and thick. Flavour fit for the gods, thanks to long cold ferment.


It is difficult to see how these could be improved, but of course, there is always tomorrow. Damn, I love this hobby!


ADDENDUM Aug 18: By the way, although it LOOKS like the crust is burned in some spots (in bottom picture), trust me it wasn't. Just a quirk of the dark shadows thrown from my blue-grey cabinet in the early morning light. In fact, here is picture of crust, top view, with blue cheese smothered on. And yes, sometimes I like flouring tops of my rustic baguettes!



I know they say don't spritz-steam while top-floured bread is in oven, but what the hell.



Please, dear Lord, let me duplicate these results at least once before I die.



Coffee and baguette: mutually-reinforcing vices

odinraider's picture
odinraider

I find the long fermentation does wonders as well. Did you bake all six at once, or did the amount require two oven loads? I find my stone is only big enough to accomodate three at one time.


-Matt

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Morning Matt:


I need two  sessions (like most people) because I can bake no more than 3 baguettes at a time on my stone. I do, however, have a neat little cast-iron pan that makes three small oblong buns at a time, and I have room for that at the side of my oven.


Thanks for the compliment. You know, I often feel a little guilty about blowing my own horn when I feel I have achieved something worthwhile. Yet there I am, damn happy for another TFL-er when he or she posts similarly self-promoting blurbs and pix----because I invariably find them educational or inspiring, or both. The bottom line: I hope others feel the same way about my posts.


The other thing is, I am a rookie baker, and so naturally prone to insecurity.


RobertS

LeeYong's picture
LeeYong

Hi Robert,


They look awesome!!!


Great job!


Happy baking!


LeeYong

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Morning Matt:


Sorry for delay in responding to your post.


Thank you for your compliments. And please take a look at my reply to Matt, above, for my feelings about clap-trapping posts.


RobertS

odinraider's picture
odinraider

Robert,


We all have lives outside of the boards (I hope), especially if we plan to bake the next loaf. I appreciate you responding at all.


I was all set to be envious of you for having an oven with twice the capacity of most, or to nod at your wisdom of how you devised a method for baking a double loadful of bread in one go. But instead I am contented knowing I can do no more in one bake than three, and so three it shall remain.


As for the photos, I like them because good photos of good bread are visually pleasing. They are art.  My wife made a folder on our computer for me to dump mine now that I've begun my own clap-trapping; it is titled "Matt's Other Love." I like to see what everyone else is doing, and get ideas for my next session. Similarly, I want to share my own experiences, although I am not nearly as skilled at photographic composition as many others on this site.


So keep up your shameless and flagrant self promotion, and thanks for doing it!


-Matt

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Hey Matt:


It's like putting your pants on, one leg at a time, but the second batch of 3 baguettes never seems to mind if it has to wait its turn!


Keep all your photos. Great way to measure progress.


Actually, it's shameful (though flagrant) self-promotion. :-)


RobertS

odinraider's picture
odinraider

Robert,


That shows the differences right there. I say no shame should be attached; you see the act as one deserving of shame. I like a good philosophical debate about the inherent nature of Man...


Matt

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Hey Matt:


Check out the :-) in my post. I was just kidding, you see.


Actually, from a purely semantic point of view,  to be shameless is more perjorative than to be shameful, the latter exuding at least a little humility and remorse!!! :-)


RobertS


 


 

odinraider's picture
odinraider

Be assured, I know you are kidding, Robert, but even jest is indicative of ideology. And a tongue in the cheek makes most discussions more fun. In light of that, I ask: should humans feel humility and remorse as a course of their fundamental nature, or are the two artifices created to relieve those who lack skills of their own shame? Along that line of thought, are the two not a form of lying? If one can perform a task well, and knows that the task is performed well, yet takes a humble approach in the recounting of the completion, is that not a form of lying? is it worse to be seen as boastful or a liar?


I do apologise, to you and anyone else reading this, for straying so far off the topic of bread, but I cannot resist philosophy where I find it.


-Matt

wally's picture
wally

Very nice bake indeed!  I am curious, though, as to the purpose of using cooled water?  You typically want steam to allow for maximum oven spring, but you also want to vent that steam to allow the loaves to dry properly.  It seems to me that using cool water (with some remaining at the end of the bake) works against both of these objectives. In any event, the baguettes looks delicious.


Larry

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Afternon Wally:


Your kind words are much appreciated.


As for cool water...what I was working towards was a crust that didn't thicken and harden up too much---a problem I have been having with my baguettes. Don't get me wrong: my crusts had been very good, but I thought I could do better.


My lava rocks get so freaking hot in my 500F oven that hot water turns to steam instantly, so I now use room temperature water (which is relatively cool)  to not only make sure steam is captured, but the steaming period is lengthened out. I get a good spring, but a somewhat slower one. By experiment, I discovered that adding a second cup a little later on, after the first cup disappeared, added beneficial humidity to the air. Not steam, but humidity. (by the way, my convection oven vents steam.)


The hot oven (455 after steaming) definitely dries out the crust, you see, but more slowly than it used to, thus preventing too much heat for too long, which tends to thicken and harden the crust, and slow down  the cooking of the interior, other things being equal. It's a delicate balance, Wally, but the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. My crumbs, which used to be a touch too moist, are now less elastic and chewy, and their very slight gumminess has disappeared.


My cooler oven (it used to be 475F) no doubt also helped me to achieve my goal.


On steam and spring...My understanding is it isn't the steam per se that gives the spring, but the steam moisturizes the surface of the dough, preventing it from toughening up too soon, and thus encouraging the dough to rise unimpeded, as it wants to do because of the very high heat. So, the moral for me is, keep the moisture in the air at optimum level for an optimum length of time.


RobertS


 

wally's picture
wally

Yes, the point of steam is to keep the crust from prematurely hardening and preventing further rise in loaf volume.  And if your oven is venting steam, then you probably don't have to worry about your loaves not drying properly.  As you say, the proof is in the pudding.


Larry

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Hi Wally (or is it Larry? I'm confused):


Thanks for your post. Yes, my oven pours out so much steam I think of Robert Louis Stevenson every time I bake. And note I use convection for first half of bake time.


I find Sylvia's comments (above) interesting, in that she also reports making similar adjustments to obtain thinner and crispier crust.


I'm looking forward to peppering David Synder with questions on his return from his seminar, to get his views on this issue. As usual, there are several variables in play, and I suspect one of them is mixing.


Again, I appreciate you taking the time to extend me a helping hand. There is no substitute for experience.


RobertS (Bob)

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

I always remind myself that convection ovens are actually about 10 to 15 degrees hotter than regular settings.  I turn off my convection setting while presteaming and steaming, then set my oven on regular bake before loading by bread, and back to convection for the final bake.  At first I used to steam more by adding more water..now I find I get better oven spring from the pre-heated convection oven set on 500* and pre-heat the stone for at least 50 min, then I it set on regular oven, steam with 3/4 cup boiling water on lava stones, turn the oven temp down to 450* regular oven for 10mins apx., turn on convection oven to finish.  This gives a better ear and oven spring, thin crispy crust.  To much steam makes my slashes just spread open without an ear on the crust and to high of a heat for to long tends to make a thicker crust on my bakes.  Hopes this helps in someway.  Your loaves are lovely.


Sylvia

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Bonjour Sylvia:


I was most pleased to receive your post that throws light on my crust/crumb issues.


I am encouraged to try your method of pre-steaming (as opposed to mine of "post-steaming", as it were.) Heating the stone for about an hour is definitely beneficial, though I must confess I often am too impatient (or is it forgetful?) to give it that long a heating period. I shall have to remember from now on to get the oven going earlier.


It is interesting that you start baking with regular oven (after a convection preheat), then finish with convection---the opposite to what I do. As you will see from my exchanges with Wally (Larry), above, we both feel that the convection setting's ability to vent steam during oven spring phase, is a good thing. The idea being to guard against over-moisturizing the dough. That being said, I lay more emphasis on stretching out the moisturizing over time, than I do in venting excess steam.


Since I make L'Ancienne baguettes exclusively, my very hydrated dough is virtually impossible to slash, and I don't even go there. However, my next goal in my breaducation process if to bake traditional-looking baguettes, such as Dave Synder is now baking in his seminar. So I have underlined your comments about ear and spreading slashes, and hope to make use of them soon.


Grazi, Sylvia


RobertS (Bob)


 

wally's picture
wally

Bob-


If I miscommunicated my point, apologies, but I definitely do not favor venting during the oven spring phase.  That's when the rising loaves most need the moisture.  The venting should be done once the loaves take on sufficient coloration.


Larry

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Hi Larry:


My apologies for the misunderstanding. And your correction explains why Sylvia does her first bake period with regular oven, and later switches to convection.


RobertS (Bob)


PS: What's with the name "Wally"?

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Hi, Bob and by the way, Welcome to TFL!  Just in case you were wondering, the reason I pre-heat my oven with the convection on, it seems to me that things heat up hotter and faster because the convection heat setting is about 10-15 degrees hotter than if it were set on regular bake... it works great for getting the stone hot enough for my indoor pizza baking. 


If you haven't already be sure and check out the 'search' lot's of discussion on TFL about steaming and just about everything else from the pro's. 


Have a lovely day, Bob!

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Yes, I realized why you started with convection. I recently visited what has been touted by the Toronto food critics as the very best pizza in the city, and learned from the owner that they bake at 950F!!! Their pizzas take just seconds to bake. And yes, their crusts are wowser-ville!


Shall peruse the record for steam info, and many thanks for your post, Sylvia.


Bob

hanseata's picture
hanseata

This just shows that you always have to know the way your oven performs - not one size fits all.


My oven is very well insulated and doesn't let the steam escape, so I use 1/2 cup of boiling water for my baguettes and remove the steam pan after half the baking time (it usually still has some water in it). I also use convection mode for the whole bake and leave the breads 5 minutes longer in the switched-off oven with the door slightly ajar.


By the way, I always bake six Pains a l'Anciennes (in perforated baguette pans) on two racks at the same time - I rotate pans and racks after half of the baking time.


Karin

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Morning Karin:


I was delighted to hear you get six---count 'em, six---baguettes into your oven at once, using two racks.


I have baguette pans also, that come in two- and three-loaf sections. The three-sectioned ones are slightly too long to fit in at a 90-degree angle to the door, but if I cut them down a wee bit, I could put two abreast and bake 6 loaves on ONE rack. Which I would prefer to do because my steam pan is pretty large, and I also like to bake some buns at the same time as the baguettes.


That being said, I am going to try using the two-rack system, and will be sure to rotate and switch pans around half-way.


About my oven...I need to check my oven manual, but it seems to me that my oven is not leaking steam accidentally, but is in fact designed to vent steam, both in regular, but especially in convection mode. Another steam-leak comes from my door not shutting completely, though I don't know if this is a feature of the oven, or an issue, as Bill Gates is so fond of saying.


All in all, I just know for sure now that, in MY oven, I do better with more and cooler water, and cooler baking temperature.


Bake on, Karin!!


Bob

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Bob, I always bake six baguettes at a time because I sell them. My oven is fortunately wide enough for the 3-baguette pan to fit lengthwise inside.


But you have to be careful, if the ends are too near the oven walls they might burn. I tried once to put two of those perforated pans side by side on one rack, but the bread in front and the last one burnt on the sides. The same happened with the tips when I tried to put the pans in across.


Two pans on two racks works well enough, I have a stone lined rack on the lowest tier and the steam pan on the oven floor.


Maybe one day I'll invest in a (used) professional oven, but so far I get along with my regular JennAir.


Karin

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Hey Karin:


Yes, I have ventured too close to sides and back of oven and got burned. Interested in the further info you give on where you place things.


I have a heating coil on floor of my oven, so can't put steam pan there. I have used baguette pans just sitting on the rack, and baguette pans sitting on pre-heated stone. One of my pans is a bit too deep, and so bottom of loaf looks like submarine bottom -- really rounded---which I don't care for. The loaf slots also too close together, and sometimes loaves fuse together! Have other pans that are ideally shaped, yet I think I prefer setting loaves on the stone, either with or without parchment paper. Your posts have encouraged me to think about getting a second stone, and baking on two levels, like you do, even though I have no prospects of selling mine!! I just cool them down to room temp and freeze them. They come alive again in the microwave 3 min, 45 seconds on "defrost", with very little taste alteration.


Do you think two stones will work, with the steam pan (cum lava stones) made much smaller, and set off to the side, on the bottom level?


Bob

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Bob, I use only one rack lined with unglazed quarry tiles. I put one pan on that and the other just on the rack - and then switch them after half of the baking time. Probably it's worth a try using two racks with stones.


I like the baguette pans because they shape the pains a l'ancienne a little, other baguettes don't need that so much since they are shaped, not just cut slices.


By the way, I don't understand why one shouldn't steam breads that are sprinkled with flour - I do that all the time - with no negative effect. What would the negatve effect be, anyway?


Karin

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Morning Karin:


Sorry for the delay in replying to your post.


Yeah, why not stones on both your racks? In fact, I asked my interior designer wife the other day if she could source me up some large unglazed quarry tiles to put on the second rack. Maybe Home Depot has some.


As for flour, on p 87 of her book, Berenbaum ---for whom I have an immense respect --- says not to use steam on glazed or floured loaves. But on the other hand (not sure which page) she later gives a recipe for a rustic bread which is floured, and she prescribes steaming it! So go figure.


I assume the issue may be that the extra moisture of steaming might mess up the flour, making it clump or something. I don't have a clue why she said that on page 87, nor why she reversed her field later on in her book. All I know is there is going to be moisture from within the dough hitting the flour with or without steaming, so I don't personally see a problem, which is why I said above "what the hell."


Bob

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Probably good that I had not read that book at the time I ignorantly poured hot water in the steam pan for the first time! My pains a l'anciennes are heavily floured, my German farmers' type breads - everything that's raised in a floured banneton - and I never had the slightest problem with it.


But even with our "bread baking popes" you'll find some odd notions . For example I use pre-doughs for all of my whole grain breads, making them in the morning, mixing the final dough in the evening, refrigerating the portioned dough overnight and bake them the next morning. But if I'm not home that day, I use stretch and fold in the evening, as for some lighter doughs.


According the "Artisan Breads Every Day" you should use more instant yeast with this technique - I don't! I even reduced the instant yeast amount in my breads from 8 to 6 g per 510 g flour and use exactly the same amount whether I do pre-doughs or stretch and fold: no difference at all! The only adjustment is with the water, I use a little more for S & F.


Sometimes it's better not to follow slavishly the great masters and figure things out for yourself.


Karin

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Karin:


You are right, which is why I have always ignored advice that doesn't square with my experience that has been proven solid (as opposed to experience that is not thoroughly grounded).


That being said, I am reading  Bread by Hamelman now, for first time, and I must say this is best book on bread making I have ever read.


By the way, please take a look at my post this AM in Into the Pot With You. Its about yesterday's crust experiment re pot bread, but also touches on baguettes.


Lastly, a thought on two-tier baking, which I tried yesterday. Found that the stone interfered with heat distribution, especially since I used regular oven for first half of the bake. Next time, I will use baguette pans on both racks, sans stone, with one of the pans pushed left and the other pushed right (ie staggered), and am going back to convection, which provides a dramatic increase in the evenness of the heat.


Bake on!


Bob

Rodger's picture
Rodger

Speaking of sexing the baguette, it occurred to me in a silly daydream that the term "baguette" might be understood as the feminized form of "bagel."  Of course looking bagels and baguettes side by side on a cutting board, one understands that these are purely linguisitc categories, with no bearing on their physical shapes.


By the way, I recently acquired a range with two ovens, a full-size one and a half-size one.  I have successfully baked six baguettes at a time using both ovens.  Heat distribution is a bit tricky in the smaller oven, requiring me to shift the loaves more than once in the course of a single bake.

RobertS's picture
RobertS

Good Morning Rodger:


Purely linguistic (having to do with the tongue) categories....yes indeed. LOL. Now enough of that or someone will flag me for "Objectionable Content".


Re six baguettes in two ovens: lucky you to have two ovens. But why not 12 baguettes then, seeing that I did 6 in one oven? :-)


Best wishes for success in all your bakes.


RobertS (Bob)