The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saturday Baguettes - Week 8

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Saturday Baguettes - Week 8

Well, this week was a little disappointing one in baguette land.

I only made two seemingly minor (intentional) changes from last week:  First, I endeavored to proof until the baguettes "felt ready" (about 65 minutes this week), rather than waiting for a 75 minute proof.  That I think went well.  Second, I switched from KA Bread Flour to Stone Buhr White Bread Flour.  I generally prefer the Stone-Buhr, but my local grocery stores stopped stocking it.  Last week,  all of a sudden Save-Mart had a small supply with a "Close-Out" price-tag, and I snapped up 3 bags while I had the chance.  In the past, I've gotten much more sweet, nutty wheat flavor out of the Stone-Buhr in breads that rely heavily on the flour for flavor, such as baguettes. In particular, Stone-Buhr gave better results than the KA, Gold Medal, or the Sunny-Select store brand with Peter Reinhart's formula for pain a l'ancienne, which I used to make pretty frequently.  For several editions of my weekly baguette quest, when I've liked the shape and scoring, but not the flavor, I've wondered if a little Stone-Buhr would fix everything.

Anyway, the big problem this week is that the poolish over-proofed after only 10 hours on my counter--I could smell the booziness of it but forged ahead, and ended up with somewhat pale, chewy bread. Ah well. The big question is this: why did it overproof so fast?  I have a few potential theories:

  1. The flour is to blame: Perhaps Stone Buhr has more free sugars, which explains my experience of great flavor, and a fast proof.
  2. The yeast is to blame: I may have over-yeasted the poolish.  I've been trying to approximate 1/16 teaspoon of yeast by half-filling a 1/8 teaspoon measure, and it isn't easy.
  3. My apartment is to blame: The apartment was a bit warmer than usual Saturday morning when I took temperatures in order to figure out the right water temp.

Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Anyway, here are the results.  Only two baguettes are pictured because I sent one home with my parents (who had stopped by to see their grand-daughter) prior to taking a picture.  Take my word for it that baguette #3 looked much like #1 and #2.




Crust was pale, and very tough and chewy.  Scoring placement was pretty good, although I'm thinking part of the problem is that I'm not scoring deep enough.  Crumb was moderately open, but oddly dry.  Flavor wasn't too bad despite all that.

At least I had more luck with my Sunday bake, a rendition of dmsnyder's lovely San Joaquin Sourdough.  Haven't sampled the inside, but the outsides look nice and they smell phenomenal.  Still, for a picture I decided they needed a cute-ness enhancer.



LindyD's picture

Those sourdoughs are larger than that sweet infant!  Won't be long before she'll be teething on your breads.  Enjoy her every moment, because you can't imagine how quickly Miriam Bell will grow up.

As to the baguettes, may I suggest that you take a look at SteveB's Bread Cetera site, not necessarily for his formula but most definitely for his technique of mixing only by hand using a double hydration method.

I've found his methods amazing not only for coaxing out the flavors of the flour, but the wonderful crumb it produces.

I've no experience with Stone Burh flours, but if you're trying to measure out minute quantities of yeast, you should consider getting a spoon scale.

dmsnyder's picture

Gotta say, that's the sweetest presentation of the SJ SD I've seen yet. 

Beautiful baby, Ryan. (Nice loaves, too.)


SylviaH's picture

What a beautiful baby...totally distracted me from the rest of your post : ) 


wally's picture

Beautiful presentation of breads and baby Ryan.

I would suspect both too much yeast and too high a temperature to have over-ripened the poolish in just 10 hours.  Also, if you are keeping it in a closed container, that would generate additonal heat that could be responsible.  The paleness of the baguettes in your pictures is certainly indicative of an over-ripe poolish.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you suspect overripe poolish, throw it out.  There is no 'fix' for the overabundance of protease activity which has essentially ruined your gluten structure.


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Thanks Larry; she's a cutie, isn't she?

I hear you about throwing out the over-ripe poolish -- certainly it ruined things this time.  It's so hard to just give up on it though...ah well.  Next time I'll change plans and shoot for "Sunday Baguettes" if the poolish expires before I get to mixing, despite my best efforts.

njbetsy's picture

Not that the bread isn't beautiful, but the baby is gorgeous.