Saturday Baguettes, Week 3 - Two steps forward, two steps back
In this third installment of my weekly attempts to bake a passable baguette, conflict, drama, and a rather too hot oven arise.
Where we last left our heroes:
My weekly goal is to master (sort of) Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish. Last week's baguette possessed only a so-so flavor and texture, a crumb that was somewhat too tight, crust that was a tad chewy, and irregular scoring. This week I added a few modifications:
- I fermented the poolish for only 9 hours instead of 12. I'm making only a half batch compared to Hamelman's Home measurements, and it stood to reason that if 1/8 teaspoon of yeast in ~21 oz of poolish is ready in 12 hours, the same yeast in half the poolish would take less time
- By accident, I left the oven temperature at 535 degrees (probably more like 515 measured by a more reasonable oven than mine) for the first 6 minutes of the bake.
- After the baguettes had finished baking, I turned off the oven, propped the door open, and left them in for another 5 minutes, in hopes of a crisper crust.
The Results: External Shots
As you can see, the crumb was relatively tight, and the scores very shallow, and so in that respect this batch was pretty disappointing. On the other hand, at least the slashes were a little more consistent? However, the flavor was somewhat better, and although the crumb lacked big open holes, it had a creamier texture than past weeks. The crust was also nicer--although a little chewy on the bottom, the rest was thin and crispy.
As for why this happened, I have a few thoughts, although if anyone else has some I'd love to hear it. I think the poolish is still over-fermenting. Although it wasn't as bad, I could still smell the alcohol, which isn't a good sign. I can't reasonably let a poolish sit overnight for much less than 9 hours, so I'll have to either cut the yeast (tricky when I'm starting from 1/8 tsp), or make extra poolish and throw some away. I also think that goofing up the oven temperature may have hampered the ability of the cuts to open, although I think primarily I just didn't slash deeply enough. I also wonder if I might be degassng too much when I shape the baguettes.
I think next week I'm not going to vary anything except to change the yeast proportion in the poolish, and skip the goof on the oven temperature. If I still get a tight crumb, then I'll examine other factors.