The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Homemade Baguette Pans

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AndyPieper's picture
AndyPieper

Homemade Baguette Pans

Let me begin by saying this is my first post, and I have learned a tremendous amount from so many of you.  I am an amatuer baker...serious, but time constrained.  One of my major curiousities has been how people get bakery quality breads with home equipment.  I have learned many great tricks from you all.  I hope I can share one with you.


One particular interest of many on this website is baguettes.  Many of us spend alot of time perfecting the formulas and shaping of baguettes.  But given the length of most people's stones (usually 15") and standard baking pans (around 18") I see that many of us end up with only about 15-17" baguettes.  Most of the retail baguette pans are 16-18".  These tools often create very nice looking (and nice tasting) loaves, but given that the standard home oven is nearly 24" wide, I was frustrated with my inability to make better use of that space, and the potentially more dramatic loaves that space could provide.


So I set about finding a fairly easy, and even more importantly, cheap, solution. 


I began with three cheap aluminum stove pipe pieces purchased from Lowe's.  I was not able to find them at Home Depot.


Pan Barcode


 


 Pipe


 


As you can see, these cost a whopping $3.34.  I bought three for $10, and used the first one for "practice." 


Make sure the pipes are not galvanized, as these are problematic.  You want plain aluminum.


These pans are about 24" long, and after you use a hacksaw to cut off the ribbed ends, will be 22-23".


The diameter of the pipe is about 4", which means the width, if stretched, would be a little over 12".  If you can find a flat 12x24 sheet, that would work.  But I wanted the "curve" to be partially formed already, and this pipe piece fit the bill.


The next part is a little difficult, but "about right" is as okay as perfect.  You want to divide the pan into three sections lengthwise.  I used a flexible fabric tape measure, and tapped indentations into the metal with a hammer and nail punch.  If you tap three indentations, each the same distance from the edge, then you will have a sort of "line of dots" the length of the pan.  Measure first from one edge, and then from the other.  This will give you two "lines" of three indentations each, which essentially creates three lengthwise sections to the pan.  Note that I used about 4 1/4" as my distance.  This means the baguettes are a little thicker that those bought from a bakery, but thinner than most of us create free form.  You could potentially try to create four-loaf pans, which would require approximately 3" measures.


Measuring


 


The next step is the initial bending of the pan seams.  The indentations create a "line" on the outer part of the pan.  Using the edge of some sharp piece of wood, position the pipe along the indentations.  Using your fingers, press near the indentations and bend the pipe sort of "around" the corner of the wood.


Bending Pipe


 


 


Continue this bending along both lines.  From here, you simply do your best to create semi-circle rounds that will hold the baguettes.  I used two strategies to continue forming the pans.


The first was to use a long thin tool for spreading wallpaper or edging paint.  You could use a variety of things, such as a thin board, or even a stiff piece of cardboard (those of you who have a baguette flipping board...here is another use).  Simply place it underneath the partially bent pipe joint, and bend as far as you can, pinching the bend with your fingers.


Bending Pipe 2


 


 


My next strategy was to use a rolling pin to continue the bending process.  The goal is to make the groove as near a semi-circle as possible. 


Rolling pin


 


 


This did not work that well, and I ended up just using my fingers to bend the aluminum as best that I could.  The final results can be seen below.


Final Product 1


 


 


Final Product 2


 


 


Does this work?  Well, my results are below.  I just put parchment paper lengthwise on top, and made some sourdough baguettes.  For these approximately 22" baguettes, each baguette's dough was about 15 oz.  The recipe is based on the Proth5 65% hydration dough.  As I mentioned earlier, these baguettes are a little wider than I prefer.  They are about 3" in diameter.  But they are still nice.


Finished loaves


 


 


The reason I like these pans is that 1) they are cheap; 2) they allow one to bake multiple long large loaves; and 3) they are easy to make and maintain. 


Many of the retail pans out there are expensive, and waste some of our oven width.  You could make three of these for $10, and if you mess up the first few, then no problem...spend $10 more and make them better.  Making these two pans (plus one practice pan) took about 45 minutes.


Many of us are looking for longer, grander, easier to handle baguettes.  I know that many of the posts I've seen discuss the difficulty of shaping and transferring baguettes.  I hope these pans fill a void that many of us have surrounding baguettes.  They take full advantage of all of our oven space, allowing me to cook six 22" baguettes in one baking cycle.  They avoid the problem of poor surface tension on free form baking pans or collapsed loaves after transferring from couche to stone.  In addition, they allow for the use of higher hydration doughs that don't hold their form as well.


Some notes/ideas/caution:


The bottom of baguettes baked in these pans are quite soft.  I have adjusted for this inevitability by removing the loaves from the pans and baking directly on the rack the last 3-4 minutes of baking. 


These pans are weak and flimsy.  I place them on upside-down baking sheets when using.


Also, the edges can be slightly sharp, so be careful. 


Finally, the loaves are rounded on the bottom.  I think it is possible to bend or form the bottom of the pans more squarely, I just haven't done so. 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

And a real money saver for people who want the pans but balk at the price


Not being one to leave well enough alone, what if you were to make four, rather than three, pan sections from each pipe?  Would that let you make skinnier baguettes?  Or would it send you into breadstick territory?  Each arc would have a perimeter of roughly three inches, instead of four, from bend to bend  I'm not quite sure what that would translate to in terms of straight-line distance from bend to bend.


Your solution of baking the baguettes for a few minutes outside of the pan compensates nicely for the lack of perforations in your home-made pans.


Paul

AndyPieper's picture
AndyPieper

Thanks Paul.  Yeah, I mention in the post that you could do four...and I would if I were to do it again.  It would require slightly more delicate bending.  It really depends upon how thin you want your baguettes.  I like them skinnier, so four would probably be better.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Andy,


This looks like a good solution to wasted baking space. Have to say my oven as well as my stone is little over 15 inch wide. Think a lot of UK ovens are relatively small. I wonder if it would be possible to get perforated mesh as well. They do have it in the UK but from more specialist suppliers. Single sheets are quite large and relatively cheap. Must be where the pan makers get their supplies originally!


Welcome to TFL and thanks for this contribution! Best wishes, Daisy_A

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

before bending lengthwise for the loaves.  Would it give the pan more stability? 

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Good thinking Mini. Also less risk of cutting yourself. I say this as someone who used to regularly nick their fingers on the top of Illy coffee cans, until the rounded off the sharp edges :-) Daisy_A

dsafire's picture
dsafire

I however did something very similar, using leftover aluminum window screening. It's not as sturdy, and if I overload the pans they'll spread open a bit, but I get a nice bottom crust with them. 

saltandserenity's picture
saltandserenity

I am constantly amazed of the ingenuity of the bread freaks (and I mean that in the nicest possible way!) on The Fresh Loaf.  Great idea!

wildeny's picture
wildeny

This looks great as an alternative.

Don Bigote's picture
Don Bigote

Anyone have any thoughts or comments on making baking troughs out of clay/terra cotta?  It shouldn't be hard to get local potters to make them. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

What would happen if these extruded blocks were warmed up in the oven like baking stones and proofed baguette dough was pigeon holed inside to bake?  

The idea of making roofing tiles out of clay is to make a tall cylinder on a wheel and wire cut it lengthwise into two pieces.  If made more like a tall vase and the ends closed up, thick foot removed, cut lengthwise when leather hard, and lip added, it might make an interesting closed baking vessel.

Another method might be to make the shape of the baking vessel slumping a trimmed clay slab inside a large cloth lined pipe.  Make the edges smooth, dry and fire to bisque.   If the wet clay is made the width of the oven baking chamber, after drying and kiln shrinkage, the finished slab would be the ideal size.  This would be a simple way to make your own.

bakingadict's picture
bakingadict

Thank you so much-I think I may try to do this-it sounds absolutely ingenious....:)

jaybull's picture
jaybull

So Cool Andy

Great idea since I don't make  baguettes all the time, why spend the money?  I never would have thought of the idea with the pipes, but your  baguettes came out looking so good.

Thanks Andy, will use your smart thinking.........

Jim