The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Anyone Use a French Bread Pan?

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

Anyone Use a French Bread Pan?

Good Morning, Fellow Bakers...:)


Perhaps this question has been asked, but when making baguettes yesterday I was cuious about another kitchen gadget: French bread pans. Does anyone use them? My baguettes come out fine, but I would like a more tubular shape. Perhaps if I added more surface tension on the dough I would get it, eh? The pans available through Chicago Metallic, etc. are coated with a non-stick coating that, like all of the coatings, release chemical fumes at 500 degrees or so (depending on whose tests you read). I pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees to get my baking stone really hot and to use a steam pan for a firmer crust. Any suggestions for a non-non-stick French bread pan? Thanks!




Russ

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

As soon as I posted this, I found non-non-stick baguette pans made by Fox Run!

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

I wasted a bit of money of two of them.


They were the French blue steel ones, so maybe an alternate metal/alloy would be better.


I didn't like them because the baguettes would stick during baking. I'd have to pry them out of the pan and, worse, if I didn't do so soon after removing from the oven, the sticking would crack the baguettes as they cooled.


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Surface tension is the way to do it.


You can achieve a perfectly cylindrical baguette by increasing surface tension, but there's a secret: the dough must be allowed to rest between the first and second tensing (not sure if that's the proper use of that word, but it'll have to do).


I sometimes use a third if I'm not satisfied with the tension, but that's on uncommonly humid days.


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I'd recommend baguette brotforms (link) over baguette pans.


They're helpful in (a) retaining shape (something, I'll add, that you won't have to worry about once you get your surface tensing right; it'll hold its shape just fine without a brotform) and (b) they limit the amount of dough you can use.


A baguette shouldn't exceed 250 grams of dough, but you commonly see new bakers using 1.5-2x that amount. The end result is a flattened, demi-batard, not a baguette.

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz


Surface tension is the way to do it.


You can achieve a perfectly cylindrical baguette by increasing surface tension, but there's a secret: the dough must be allowed to rest between the first and second tensing (not sure if that's the proper use of that word, but it'll have to do).


I sometimes use a third if I'm not satisfied with the tension, but that's on uncommonly humid days.



Could you explain that further? I've been baking bread for quite awhile, but I really need to learn more about the techniques - and terminology, too. Plus, I'd like to get rid of the baguette pans, if I could. They take up too much space in my kitchen (and I've already addressed my laziness regarding washing pans such as these, lol).


Lynne

wwiiggggiinnss's picture
wwiiggggiinnss (not verified)

You have to see it to really understand, but once you "get" surface tension, you're on your way to shaping perfection in all sorts of breads.


I'll try a bunch of analogies:


1. You'll laugh, but the analogy works: Find a wrinkle on your skin (assuming you have some somewhere!), then watch yourself in a mirror as you try to smooth out the wrinkle by stretching the skin with your fingers. Do you see what you're doing? You're tensing the skin by stretching it. Your not changing the muscle or the bone or anything, just the skin.


That's how you create surface tension in bread too, by stretching just the skin (or what will become the crust). 


The wrinkle on your skin comes back when you remove your fingers, as you can't just tuck your skin (unless you're a plastic surgeon). Dough, however, lends itself to stretching and tucking, and that's essentially what creating surface tension is. You stretch the skin of the dough and then tuck it (or seal it) such that the stretching holds.


I guess you can think of creating surface tension as a face lift procedure for bread dough! ;D Stretch and tuck; stretch and tuck.


(That's also why you must score shaped breads, because there will be almost too much surface tension and the bread will not rise as much as it should/could/would.)


Think of the skin as the framework that holds everything else in place. To create a baguette, stretch the skin to hold a cylindrical shape. To create a boule, stretch and round it and then seal it at the bottom, etc. Don't worry so much about the part of the dough that will become the crumb. That's what you're sealing inside of the tensed outer skin.


2. When you use plastic wrap to cover a bowl, you're creating surface tension in the plastic so it holds itself tightly over the bowl. That's another way to think of it.


3. Also, when you blow up a balloon, you're creating surface tension as the balloon expands. It can only expand so much before it pops; likewise, bread! You can stretch bread dough only so much before it tears. If you use AP flour, you can create plenty enough tension for most breads. Bread flour, which has more gluten? It will stretch even more. Hi-gluten flour? It'll stretch even more than that! Add oil to flour, as if you're making a strudel dough, and you can stretch it across the room!


4. If you ever butterfly a pork loin, stuff it with something delicious, roll it back up, and then tie the rolled up loin with kitchen string, the kitchen string is performing the role of creating surface tension. The loin won't hold its shape without the string, so you have to create a framework around the loin using kitchen string. It's creating this tension around the loin that allows the loin to hold its shape. 


Same goes for trussing poultry...


Same goes for bread, but for bread, instead of using kitchen string, you're using invisible string called gluten.


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Ciril Hitz's gives a good approximation in this video, even if he's making gigantic baguettes (380g!).


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI-WstoakmQ#t=2m25s


He repeats the tensing right away (a second time) at 2:52. I wait 5 to 10 minutes between first and second tensing.

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

Thank you for your extremely helpful post - I meant to respond earlier, but it's been one of those weeks. Intense heat, (I hate hot weather - I live near the ocean right now, and I think it only made it hotter), midterm exam - this Gramma is taking online classes for her bachelor's.. oy veh! Then Earl was headed our way, so although it was a weak baby by the time it got here, the changes in the weather still made my bones want to jump out of my body.


Times like this I love baking bread - it's almost meditative for me. But the heat in my apt. almost reached 100 degrees, and there's no way I'm putting that oven on for anything. (funny thing, though - I had some dough in the fridge that I was sure was over-proofed - I actually made a fantastic little loaf in my toaster oven!)


Now - back to the baguettes. I can't wait to try the technique. The video shows it so well (and your description is right on the money, too). Chef Hitz makes it seem so easy, like anyone could do it while half asleep.


I'm not fooled, though. Watching a video of Julia Child (with her guest, Jacque Pepin, the two icons of real cooking instruction, not today's showmanship) deboning a turkey, I was lured into thinking that this was the easiest thing to do. But if you had seen me last Thanksgiving eve with that turkey carcass sliding all over my counter, trying to get those bones liberated from the flesh, then attempting fill the boneless bird with stuffing, yelling out to no one in particular, "Julia and Jacque LIED!! This is not EASY!!!")


;D


Somehow I kept thinking of Lucille Ball...


 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

I have a couple, stuck together, and looking rather like eaves troughs.  They're shiny and very simple.  I grease them and coat them with cornmeal and the dough never sticks.  I don't make baguettes very often, but when I do, these work beautifully.

GregS's picture
GregS

Aloha, Fastmail


I've been using the batard-shaped pan (two troughs) with success. I have the same goal; to get a more circular shape from high moisture doughs. I do the second rise right on the pan and then pop pan and loaves in the oven together, so I could speculate that the pan temperature would rarely rise to 500 degrees. In any event, I'm willing to bet that any marginal harm from a coating would dissipate, and the convenience and outcome I want would be worthwhile. Here's another idea: You could place pieces of parchment in the pan under the baguettes. That would separate them from the actual coating.


GregS

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

That's what I do - I have the Chicago pans, (they're a few yrs old now) and if I use parchment paper, it's fine.


I would like to learn to bake them as the professionals do - they don't use these (annoying) pans. I find them annoying because they don't fit in my tiny sink, thereby giving me just another excuse not to wash them.


I don't have a dishwasher & I hate washing pans.

fastmail98's picture
fastmail98

Thank you everyone for your input. Lynne, Wiggins and I were talking about the surface tension of the dough created by folding, tucking, creating a seam, pinching the seam closed, and then tucking it under the baquette. If there isn't enough surface tension to hold the dough in shape, it will tend to spread out when baking. Wiggins is right...you can end up with a demi-batard or a baguette wanna-be. The baguette pans can be used not only to shape and proof baguettes, but to bake them as well. I like the idea of simply putting parchment paper directly over the pans...solves the sticking problem AND, if I get the ones with the silicon non-stick glaze, the paper will keep the silicon oil from leeching into my bread...that's my #1 concern. Thanks again, everyone!


Russ

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

That's what I try to do - use parchment paper - when I use the pans. If I could do without them, though, it would be great. I'm trying to simplify my life - my sink is tiny and I don't have a dishwasher, so when I get lazy, the pans tend to find places to hide so I can't seem them, out in plain sight. ;-)


The video Wiggins posted is excellent - I'm always trying so much to keep from handling the dough so much that I end up not shaping my bread at all. Can't wait for some autumn weather so I can try this out!


It's so exciting to find a technique to improve my breadmaking, and so cool to have this place for all of us to share. (thanks Floyd!!) Until I found this forum, I had no idea there were other bread-baking geeks like myself out in the world.


Very cool!


Lynne

sarafina's picture
sarafina

I don't use them all the time, but we have a double pan that is black steel with nonstick on it. I oil and cornmeal the pans and don't have sticking problems. More recently the non stick has begin to go and I tried lining the pan with parchment paper and that worked as well. Our pans are prolly 20 years old, hence the nonstick giving up the ghost.


 


The last time I used it it occured to me that I could scrub off the flaking nonstick and then season the steel. Then you could avoid actually washing them... just wipe down and hang back up!

JamieK's picture
JamieK

PaddyL, it sounds as if you and I have similar pans and I really enjoy using mine.  The inside of the pans are covered in these little pocks (similar to what you see on a golf ball).  Mine work beautifully as well.

longhorn's picture
longhorn

I am in the sometimes I use baguette pans and sometimes I don't. Depends on my mood. It does give a rounder loaf with the wet dough I use but I like the look of the flatter ones better. So.....it all depends! Not sure why, but with no spray and with wet dough mine never stick!