The Fresh Loaf

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Saturday Baguettes, week 1

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Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Saturday Baguettes, week 1

I've been trying to bake artisan bread for about three years now, since I picked up a copy of The Bread Baker's Apprentice as an exchange for a Christmas present.  In that time, I've never been particularly good about focusing on one particular bread and practicing it until I get it down, as so many of the wise bakers on this site recommend.  There are a couple of breads that I've mastered anyway, simply because I love them and bake them often enough to do blindfolded--the BBA Italian Bread in particular.  Starting this week, however I'm going to try to amend that, in a way sure to put me deep in over my head.  My objective: produce a reliable, tasty and beautiful baguette through practice, trial and error.  I don't really imagine that I will truly master the baguette--better home bakers than I have tried in vain, I know.  But I'm hoping to turn what is usually a hit-or-miss process into something I can do over and over again well, if not perfectly.


So, every Saturday from now until I get it right (or get sick of it), I will be baking three baguettes using the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelmans Bread.  I have made this formula before with varying success, and on the first occasion just about nailed it by pure luck and accident--nice ears, open crumb, the works.  I know it can be done, if not precisely how.


This is the formula:


Poolish



  • 5.3 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 1/8 tsp yeast


Final Dough



  • 10.7 oz. bread flour

  • 5.3 oz. water

  • 5/8 tsp yeast

  • 0.3 oz. salt


Note: I halve the quantities that Hamelman calls for--we can only eat so many baguettes!


Process:



  1. Mix Poolish night before

  2. Mix all ingrediants with wooden spoon, let sit 5 minutes  

  3. Mix in mixer ~2 minutes until the dough windowpanes 

  4. 30 folds in the bowl with a rubber spatula  

  5. Ferment 1 hour, stretch and fold  

  6. Ferment 1 hour more, divide into 9 oz. pieces, pre-shape as cylinders  

  7. Rest 10-20 minutes

  8. Shape as baguettes, place on couche, spray with oil.  

  9. Proof 1 hour  

  10. Pre-heat oven to 515 and stone 45 minutes before baking

  11. Transfer baguettes to parchment on a sheet pan, score.

  12. Cover oven vent, slide parchment onto stone, pour steam, lower temp to 460.  

  13. Bake 24-26 minutes, uncovering the vent, and turning the baguettes around after 10.


Pictures from week 1:


 

The dough was reluctant to slash, and so the scoring is all irregular. Still, it formed a nice ear along the slashes.  I'm thinking for next time I will make two changes: first, I will cover the baguettes while proofing, but not spray them; I think the surface was too wet to score easily.  Second, I'm going to increase the oven temperature--I kept the baguettes in for almost 30 minutes, and you can see how much color they got.  I'm aware that my oven doesn't get as hot as it says it does; I just have to calibrate what temp actually bakes a nice baguette in 25 minutes.

I'll update with crumb pictures later.

I'd appreciate any thoughts or suggestions; but for certain I'll be back next week to try again!

Update: Typical crumb shot below.  Surprisingly nice given the irregular scoring.  Crust wasn't as crisp as it might be; if changing the oven temp doesn't fix that I'll think about applying the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" method, but one thing at a time.  Texture of the crumb was more fluffy than creamy, and the flavor just okay; I've done better with this formula.  But, again, one thing at a time.

Comments

wally's picture
wally

At my last job I made up about 65# of poolish baguette dough a day using Hamelman's formula.  It is reliable and makes a very flavorful baguette.  That said, as you know, replicating this in home ovens is a real trick.


Reading through your narrative you mention spraying the baguettes with oil once you couche them.  Not a technique I've ever come across.  If you are placing them en couche, then they should be covered by the couche folds.


You have two options in how you couche them - seam side up or seam side down.


The former will give you a baguette surface that is more moist, while the latter generally yields a surface with a thin film.  Some find the latter easier to score, because the dough tends not to drag during the slashing. In either event though, I'd forgo the oil.


Keep at it - if you can master the baguette at home everything else is icing on the cake.


Larry