The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saturday Baquettes, Week 2

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Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Saturday Baquettes, Week 2

My quest for a passable baguette continues.  To recap: In an attempt to improve my baguette skills, I'm making the Baguettes with Poolish formula from Hamelman's Bread every weekend until I get it right(-ish).  Following my experience from week 1, I made two changes:


First, I increased the baking temperature.  Last week the baguettes were simply not browned enough after the 26 minutes recommended by Hamelman.  This surely has as much to do with my oven as anything else--I've always had problems with it's notion of just how hot 450 degrees is as compared to mine.


Second, I resisted my home-baker's instinct to spray exposed surfaces of the dough with spray oil at every opportunity, and for the final proof of the shaped baguettes, I mostly covered the dough with the folds of my trusty tablecloth-couche, and then with plastic wrap.


The Results:


 Exterior 


 Crumb 

The Debrief

Crust was nice and dark but could be more caramelized still.  My scoring was still pretty irregular, but somewhat improved from last week.  More importantly, as a result of omitting the spray oil for the final proof, the scores were easier and the blade dragged less.  On a few of the scores started to get the feel for how the lame ought to bite into the loaf.  But although I got about 2 good scores per loaf, that's not quite enough.  I also clearly need to work on keeping the scores separate from each other.

 The crumb, as you can see, was somewhat underwhelming; the more creamy, gel-like texture still eludes me.  Flavor was good, but not what I know this formula is capable of.  Crust was crisper than last week, but still a bit chewy.

For Next week:

I have a few ideas:

  • Start trying variations on the "turn off the oven but leave the bread in" to get a crisper crust
  • Try to do exactly 4 scores per baguette; I think part of my problem is varying length and number
  • Change the Poolish fermentation time: So far I've had 1/8 tsp yeast in 5.3 oz. each of flour and water, fermented for 12 hours (and I've actually been pretty good about keeping it to 12 hours, not longer or shorter).  Since Hamelman suggests a similar quantity of yeast for twice the Poolish (I'm doing half a "Home" batch), perhaps a shorter ferment is in order.

Any other suggestions, diagnoses, or critiques greatly appreciated!