Saturday Baguettes - Week 12
If you've been following this series of posts, you might be wondering, "what happened to week 11?" Well, last Saturday my mother in law invited us over for a Chrismas cookie baking day. I was distressed at the notion of missing my regular baguette bake, and foolishly decided to mix the dough at home, then bring the dough with me and bake it at my in-laws. Long story short, it did not go well. Moving on.
This week brought three changes to my baguette routine. First and most importantly, I switched by to KAF Bread Flour from the Stone-Buhr flour I had been using. Partly this was because I ran out of Stone-Buhr, and my local stores have stopped stocking it. But I think the flour is to blame for the sub-par results I've been getting. Last week I was looking through my past blog posts, and was struck by the stark difference between, say Week 4, or Week 6, and more recent bakes. Ever since I started using the Stone-Buhr flour (Week 8, if you're keeping track), my crumb has been underwhelming, flavor has oven been lacking, and I've struggled to get the baguettes to color sufficiently, even as the bottoms reliably burnt. Not that I was hitting all those points every time with the KA flour, but I was getting much closer.
I also tried two suggestions from comments from last week: I used Ciril Hitz's rolling technique for final shaping (thanks to Daisy_A for the pointer), and tried leaving my steam pans in for 13 minutes instead of 10 (thanks to realcasual for the suggestion).
I was really quite pleased with these baguettes. I didn't quite get the hang of Hitz's rolling method, although I might with more practice. As a result, the baguettes were a little lacking surface tension, baking up somewhat flat and resisting slashing. Despite that, the crumb was decently open, and the flavor was good. The crust was simply fantastic. Crisp, thin, flavorful just enough chew to hold together--perfect.
Next week (well, next time--between Christmas and New Years I may end up taking a couple weeks off of Saturday baguettes), I'm going to try the Hamelman "over the thumb" shaping method again with the King Arthur Bread Flour side-by-side with the Hitz method, see which I like better.
Happy baking everyone,