The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Saturday Baguettes - Week 12

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

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).

Results: Exterior


Results: Crumb


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,



LindyD's picture

Nice job, Ryan.

What type of couche are you using?  Linen?

And how is your sweet Miriam doing?  Sleeping longer?

Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

I'm not actually sure what my couche is made out of--I've been using a table cloth, which may or may not be linen.  Generally it works pretty well, at least with a relatively low hydration dough.  I probably ought to get my hands on some proper linen at some point.

Miriam is doing great; she eats like a champ and is down to two middle-of-the-night feedings.

wally's picture

Keep at it!  It's a lot easier to get a feel for achieving just the right surface tension if you're rolling baguettes daily, but if you bake them weekly you'll find the sweet spot.

You may want to consider switching to KA's All-Purpose flour next time you need to buy more.  Although the Bread Flour is excellent, it's protein content is 12.7% which is considered - by Hamelman and others - too high for consistently crisp crusts.  Their AP flour, by contrast, is the retail version of their Sir Galahad flour which is what Jeffrey bakes all his baguettes and hearth breads with.

Happy Holidays!


Ryan Sandler's picture
Ryan Sandler

Someone else suggested the KA All-Purpose a few weeks back, but I hadn't tried it yet because I was still tinkering with other things and didn't want to change too much at once.  But next time I'll definitely pick up a bag.

Daisy_A's picture

Those look lovely, Ryan.

Crumb is great. They don't look flat in cross-section I have to say. As for shape, that top one looks better shaped than I've seen in some bakeries, although obviously you need to find the way of shaping that is right for you. Lovely golden crust too. You  must be very pleased :-)

Happy Christmas season to you and yours, Daisy_A