The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baguettes by noon?

LisaL's picture

Baguettes by noon?


New here and looking for help if possible please.

I'm quite new to breadmaking anything other than loaves, but love baguettes and have been trying out different recipes.

The problem that I'm having is even with recipes that require stading overnight (like the poolish starter) there's so much to do the next morning in terms of rises that I can never get a baguette finished for noon.  Making it a pain if we want it for lunch not dinner.


Can anyone recommend a recipe that allows a lot of the work to be done the night before, so there isn't hours of rising in the morning?


Thanks in advance.

davidg618's picture

I use a retarded straight dough, 68% Hydration, all-purpose flour, instant dry yeast.

Prepare with ICE Water--lowers dough temperature immediately (Reinhart prescribes this technique in his Pain a l'Ancienne)

I place the dough immediately into my wine closet (55°F); a refrigerator is a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Autolyse 1 hour.

3 or 4 Stretch & Folds at thirty minute intervals, returning the dough to the retarder immediately after each manipulation.

Retard for a total of 15 hours from beginning of autolyse to preshaping.

I use only 1/4 tsp of yeast because I retard at 55°F. For retarding in a home refrigerator (~40°F)I would suggest 1 tsp of yeast.

I start the dough at 4 PM and remove it from the retarder the next morning at 7 AM (15 hours)

Immediately, preshape, rest for one hour. (The smaller masses will warm faster than if the dough is left in bulk.)

Shape into baguettes, proof (It takes my 350g, 20 inch loaves 1 hour to 1-1/4 hour to proof at room temperature in a linen couche. Refrierator chilled dough will probably take longer. I estimate 15 to 30 minutes.)

Bake, with steam first ten minutes, @ 450°F, finish baking: about 15 minutes more or less.

I'm finished, and loaves are cooling between 10:30 and 11:00 AM.

This is the way I routinely bake baguettes. I'm retired, so I don't have to worry about time management; I do baguettes this way to improve the flavor and crumb of the yeasted, straight dough.

If you're interested, here is the link to the blog entry describing my experimenting with this approach.

David G


LisaL's picture

Absolutely fantastic! Thanks David :D  sounds ideal, going to check out the blog entry :)  Cheers for taking the time to explain it all, think it's just what I'm after!


hanseata's picture

I bake Reinhart's Pain a l'Ancienne every week, with some modifications (like adding sourdough and some whole grain flour). The dough ferments in the refrigerator overnight, and I take it out in the early morning about 3 hours before using. It's a very wet dough, therefore only cut, not shaped. I'm done with it before noon.



GSnyde's picture

My usual baguettes take about four hours from fridge (after retarding)  to end of bake.  Here's the formula (—take-two).

You have to start early in the morning to have them for lunch, but it's do-able.

Good luck in your quest.


davidg618's picture

take a look at this blog entry I made today.

David G

LisaL's picture

Hmmm I'm not sure these are going to turn out too hot lol  I had previously had some easy yeast stuff you just mixed in.  I've replaced it with dried yeast that apparently needs rehydrating, and didn't rehydrate before use just put it straight in!

Next time if I rehydrate it, would that water be additional to the amounts stated on the recipe, or use some of that?



LisaL's picture

ok so that's one lot in the bin LOL super sticky, no way could it be formed into anything.  I'm using cheaper flour for the practice runs (don't want to waste good stuff testing new recipes) so I wonder if I need less water, or if it was all down to the yeast (it barely rose lol)

In the recipe it says 1/2 - 1 tsp of yeast, what type is this based on please?  the packet says 650g typically needs 1tbsp OR if using traditional fresh yeast, half of what the recipe states.

How confused am I now LOL

davidg618's picture

Active Dry Yeast that requres rehydrating before adding. If you continue to use it use some of the dough's formula water to rehydrate it.

Instant dry yeast (sometimes called just instant yeast) can be mixed directly into the dry ingredients.

Flour's water absorbing capacity varies with the protien in the flour, and its latent moisture content. You can hold back some of the formula's water (maybe 10%) and add it only if the resulting dough is too stiff. You said you used cheaper flour, which probably means less protien which = less water absorbed, thus wetter than usual dough. My recommendation is use the better flour all the time, otherwise you have to learn how to manage two doughs: the cheap flour dough, and again the better flour. Just more frustration.

David G

LisaL's picture


Yes this is definitely the stuff that needs rehydrating and the last stuff I used was the instant yeast.  If your recipe is based upon instant, do you happen to know pls how this translates to the rehydrate stuff?  it recommends 1tbsp for 650g of bread...

davidg618's picture

I only use Instant Dry Yeast so I don't have conversion rules, but this table should help you.

David G

davidg618's picture

What formula are you using? Are you weighing the ingredients? Have you checked the baker's math to determine the hydration your expecting is correct? There is a big difference between the behavior of 68% hydration and 72% hydration.

Perhaps I share some of the blame. I assumed you know bakers math. The first line of my original post says "I use a retarded straight dough, 68% Hydration, all-purpose flour, instant dry yeast." That information is enough that, you can mix 1kg or 1000kg of dough with 68% hydration. If your using the weights from the "Overnight Baguettes" blog I referenced, please note that next to the water weight is "72%", That's the dough's hydration; dough that wet takes some experience and skill to manage. When I referenced that blog post for you, I'd forgotten I originally experimented with 72% hydrated dough, but ultimately settled on 68% hydration for the crumb we like.

Here's the formula I routinely make.

King Arthur All-Purpose flour    618g (21.8 oz) 100%

Water                                    420g (14.8 0z) 68%

Salt                                         12g (.4 oz) 2%

Instant Dry Yeast                       4g (.1 oz) .04% 1 tsp

I've described how I mix, ferment, shape, proof, and bake in my original post. I've given you the ingredients in grams, ounces, and baker's percentage, and, in the case of the yeast, a volume measure also.

If you don't have a scale, you can approximate the weights with the following conversions:

1 cup of AP flour weighs 120g (4.25 ounces), fluff up the flour, and level off with the back of a knife.

I cup of water weighs 236g (8.324655 ounces); that's right, the old saw "a pint's a pound the world around" ain't exactly right.

12g of table salt are approximately 1 and 1/2 level tsp. Kosher salt weighs less.

King Arthur AP flour contains more protein than most other AP flours, consequently, it absorbs more water than most, i.e. it makes a stiffer dough. Consequently, unless you are using KA AP, or know your AP flour is equivalent, hold back some of the water. I can only guess how much.

Details, details, details. That's the name of the game for consistent bread baking.

I'm sorry if I'm partially at fault.

David G

LisaL's picture

Gosh no David not at fault - you've been a great help! I was never hot at math, let alone baker math lol, it was just the yeast bit that was confusing me as I wasn't sure how to convert from one type to another (ie fast convenient throw in stuff to the rehydrate verision).  Anyhoo I managed to find a conversion chart yesterday afternoon so have had another bash.

I basically am using the recipe from the thread you linked to and yes weighing ingredients (digital scale)  Am new to all the hydration% stuff etc although it makes sense so am sure I will get there!  I'm just used to recipes that describe consistency (perhaps with a pic ;)) rather than working from a hydration percentage.

This batch  I held some of the water back and it was much more dough like although the yeast has gone a bit mental LOL  I left the bowl and it's full this morning so not sure if that's a good thing....not sure it's meant to be QUITE so big - but I used a chilled room instead of the fridge, so that might also be why.

Last question then I will stop being a pain (honest) when you first combine, what sort of consistency am I aiming for - is 68% hydration quite loose or should I be able to form into a firmer dough at that point?  Will a google tell me that? lol

MANY thanks again :)

davidg618's picture
davidg618 somewhat depends if you're using a mixer, or mixing by hand. Using a mixer, dough states change more rapidly than when mixing by hand, and mixers are less "personal" than hands.Nonetheless, the dough behaves exactly the same in both cases, however the most available clues--looks, and feelings--are different.

That said, I'll try to walk you through the stages a 68% hydration wheat flour dough will look and feel like. But first, let me get a few of my idiosyncratic behaviors out of the way first. The first one has to do with salt.

Most artisan bakers, in my opinion, consider salt a necessary evil. Wheat breads have virtually no flavor without salt. However, salt is considered a yeast killer (it isn't), a water grabber (it is), and, consequently, salt is forbidden to touch the dough, until autolyse is complete. (A few bakers autolyse on flour and water. Yeast and salt are added after autolyse is completed). Well, at the risk of starting a diverging thread: I add the salt to the flour at the same time I add the yeast and water, or preferment and water. I chose to do that about a year ago, because I was concerned the salt wasn't being evenly distributed in the dough when added to the dough mass, after the autolyse stage.

The other non-conformist behavior is, I observe the volume change in my doughs during bulk fermentation, but whether it doubles, triples, quadrupels, or wimps out. I don't care. To me bulk fermentation, in wheat doughs, is about gluten developement, and flavor developemt: in that order.

Let me hasten to add, generally, I want the dough's volume to increase during bulk fermentation but I don't worry about how much--until final proof, and oven spring.

Finally, although we generally talk about stages of development, keep in mind the dough's true development is ongoing, e.g., we might think the flour is fully hydrated after resting (autolyse stage) for thirty minutes, but the reality may be that it's only 99.635% hydrated, and needs 17.456 minutes more rest before it's 100% hydrated. Don't worry about it.There are no absolutes. Thirty minutes, an hour, both work. Just remember nature works slower at lower temperatures, so add a few minutes when the dough's chilly.

One last caveat: I will try to describe what you'll sense--looks like, feels like--but the adjectives and adverbs I use may mean something different to you.

So, what I'm describing is 68% hydration straight baguette dough; other dough's may or may not behave differently at each "stage".

Mixing; (by hand) the moment dry meets wet, and a few minutes following: Dump the flour, instant yeast, and salt (wisked to homogenize) into a dry bowl large enough to hold four times as much. Add all but about 10% of the water. Using a bowl scraper or a silicon spatula mix the dry with the wet. As the gooey mass begins to combine, you can set up a rythym: scrap a mass of dough from the bottom, and fold the mass--with downward pressure--over the rest of the dough. Give the bowl a quarter turn. Repeat, until  all the flour mixture is incorporated with the water. (scrape well under under the dough mass; unincorporated flour loves to hang out there.)

The mass will form a soft ball, but holds its shape. It's surface will look shaggy. It will be Sticky, and feel wet. If you squeeze the dough with your finger tips, you may think there are differences in the density of the dough from one region to another. Add the held-back water if the dough feels too stiff, or it can handle being slacker, and fold and press until it's incorporated.

Cover the bowl with a dampened towel. Let it rest (the fancy name is autolyse)  for a while. If the dough's temperature is around 76°F, and it's resting at room temperature, thirty minutes is enough. If you've used chilled water, and the dough's temperature is about 60°F, and intend to retard the dough's development, put it into the refrigerator and rest it for 1 hour.

Machine mixing: (I'm only intimately familiar with a KitchenAid stand mixer). Dump the flour mixture into the mixer's bowl. Add all but 10% of the water. On lowest speed, using the mixing paddle, mix the water and flour mixture for about two to three minutes. Stop. Scrap the sides and the bottom. Make sure there's no unincorporated flour. If there is, continue mixing. If or when, stop. cover the bowl with a damp towel. If working at room temperature, leave the bowl in the mixer. If retarding, and you've chilled the water put into the refrigerator: 30 minutes at room temp., 1 hour chilled.

In-bowl stretch and fold: With a bowl scraper or spatula, resume the fold from the bottom, press and stretch across the the rest of the dough mass. Turn the bowl a quarter-turn. Repeat thirty-times. Rest (This rest is more for your wrist and hand, rather than the dough.) As soon as the pain in your wrist or hand subsides esume; do thirty more. (Rest if you need to). Do thirty more.

When you begin the dough will be suprisingly slack, and the surface will emerge smooth as you draw the spatula or scraper across its surface when you fold. The dough will still be sticky, but less so than before the autolyse stage. You will notice during your scraping the dough will begin to leave the side of the bowl clean, and the mass left behind the scraper will pull away from the side of the bowl. Scrap the dough into an oiled container.

Maching mixing: Replace the mixing paddle with the dough hook. Begin on speed 1, for one minute (or less). Increase speed to 2. Continue machine kneading until the dough starts to climb up the dough hook, and clean the sides of the bowl. I will still be  slightly sticky, and stick to the bottom of the bowl. Stop. Scrape the dough into an oiled container.

A digression: I recommend a clear-sided container. I recommend a clear-sided container with straight sides. I recommend a clear side rectangular container with straight sides, and twice as large as the dough mass, and six times as high as the dough mass.

Cover the container with the damp towel, or it's own cover.

Rest for 30 minutes--room temperature or chilled.

1st Stretch and Fold: The dough will be very slack, you probably won't see much (if any) volume increase (none if the dough is chilled). Coat your fingers with oil. Without removing the dough from the container, Stretch and Tri-fold the dough in one direction; turn the container 90°. Tri-fold the dough, a second time along an axis perpendicular to the first tri-fold.The dough will initially, be very slack, and will still stick to your oiled fingers--but reluctantly. You may discern the dough "fighting back" when you perform the second tri-fold. Turn the dough mass over, so the seam from the second fold is on the bottom.

Cover, Rest another thirty minutes. Room temp. or retarding chiller.

Machine mixed dough: I haven't the slightest idea what to do with machine mixed dough, other than Stretch and Fold it in exactly the same way. I can't prove it, but I think dough benefits from S&F, regardless of how it was originally mixed and kneaded.

2nd S&F: Turn the dough out onto your work surface. Stone, Formica, Teflon, etc. (I use a Rubbermaid cutting board) don't need flouring. If the dough sticks a little, use a bench knife as an extension of your hand when folding. Wood boards probably will need dusting, but keep the flour to a minimum. Stretch and Tri-fold the dough in one direction, turn the dough rectangle 90° and stretch and trifold along an axis perpendicular to the original fold. Return the the dough to the container, smooth side up. The dough will resist stretching--it "fights back" gentle stretching will win out.  Beginning with this S&F handle the dough gently. It will deflate naturally from its handling, but except for very large bubbles, don't intentionally deflate the dough. Let the rectangal rest for a minute or two if necessary. Don't tear the dough. You will see some increase in volume.

Rest, 30 minutes as before.

3rd and 4th (if deemed necessary) S&F.

Do the same thing as S&F 2. The dough will resist your efforts more. Be gentle.

Lisa, It's New Year's Eve. Yvonne and I are going to a party. We're baking pizza pinwheel snacks between sentences. Shaping and scoring are not my best stages, and there's a ton of videos online that show those actions better than I can describe.  I think I've answered your question to the best of my ability, and you may have quit reading long before now. (I've been accused of telling someone how a clock works, when all they asked was "What time is it?")

Happy New Year!

David G



bottleny's picture

Though I haven't mastered the skill for baguette yet, I had sucess with Lahey's Stirato.

I usually mix the ingredients at night and refridge the dough right away for 24 hours. In the following night, I take the dough out and let it ferment at room temperature for more than 12 hours. This is the first rise. At 7 am in the morning, I can shape the dough and let it rest for 1-2 hours (2nd rise). This way you can bake the bread and still have time to let it cool for lunch.