The Fresh Loaf

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Baguettes. Still not quite right

KneadToKnow's picture
KneadToKnow

Baguettes. Still not quite right

I am trying to make Baguettes.

I'm using;
1) The recipe and instructions here:
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-baguettes-and-stuffed-baguettes/i-recipe?recipe_id=R377
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/classic-baguettes-and-stuffed-baguettes/i-recipe?recipe_id=R377

2) King Arthur unbleached AP flour.

3) Weighted measurements (not cups)

4) Bottled water (to avoid chlorine)

5) Kosher salt (if that matters?)

I've made this about three times now. The bread turns out iffy at best. I'm not sure what the proper bread terms are so forgive me as I use my best guess. The inside of the bread is fairly dense, and doesn't have that "pull" or "tension" to it that french-bread/baguettes should have. I am used to baguettes that try to hold together when ripped with your fingers. These loaves just pull apart to easily.

Any helpful tips?

StephaniePB's picture
StephaniePB

I've made this recipe many, many times, and it's about as good as a 2-day baguette recipe can be. 


I always use tap water, not bottled or filtered - this is because I've had HORRIBLE experiences in the past trying to get sourdough starters to thrive using bottled/filtered water (have tried both). I don't know if it makes a difference with regular commercial-yeast baking, but since that happened to me with sourdough I've stuck to tap water only.


I don't think that recipe includes the instructions to spray your oven, but it makes a huge difference with the end crust - use a mister and spray inside your oven 3 times over the course of baking, I generally do it at 5, 10, and 15 minutes...or whenever around then I remember.


You could also incorporate some stretch and folds into the rising process, I find this helps make the final crumb a bit more "airy." Just fold the dough 3 times over the course of 3 hours before shaping and after the initial rise. Don't degass or smush it, literally fold the sides of the dough around to the top and let it sit. Fold, sit for an hour, fold, sit, etc.


I'd also double check the health of your yeast - these are not dense loaves by a long shot and should have some nice air bubbles in the middle.


Good luck!!

KneadToKnow's picture
KneadToKnow

Quote:
I've made this recipe many, many times, and it's about as good as a 2-day baguette recipe can be.
How long should they take?
Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

There are a lot of things that could be upsetting your results.  Here is a link to an awesome video on shaping your loaves....


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/21607/more-shaping-practice


Do you weigh your ingredients?  Have you looked through the handbook and lessons listed above?  Do you have a camera and can take pictures and explain how you do the steps in the recipe? 


I find that baguettes need to be a real moist dough, so if you are adding a lot of flour during kneading than that could also be an issue.  I suggest writing down exactly what you do as you do it, and then posting it.  It really will help.  I'm not sure why it has you deflate the dough three times.  I treat my dough very gently when I want a nice holey baguette.  I knead the dough at the beginning for about 6 minutes (using a kitchenaid) and then allow it to rise for several hours till it's double, then I actually fold it:  You can see my process in these pictures:


http://picasaweb.google.com/JoJos.amazing.circus/SourdoughRolls#


http://picasaweb.google.com/JoJos.amazing.circus/SourdoughBatchDay2#


Remember that these are sourdough, so I don't use yeast in them but the handling of the dough should be pretty close to what you see.  There are also other methods for making a really awesome baguette that involve stretch and fold's in place of kneading.  I have had great success with that method, just no pictures of it!  Hope this helps...


Joanne

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi, KTK,


I'm a bit perplexed why KAF is calling what sounds like a poolish a "starter,"  when so many people associate starter with sourdough.  There's nothing sourdough about the referenced baguette recipe.  


As you probably know, a poolish is an equal amount of flour mixed with an equal amount of water plus a small portion of yeast.  It's left overnight to ferment.  That pretty much matches what KAF calls a "starter," except they call for four ounces of water and 4 1/4 ounces of flour.  ???


The hydration of that recipe is 63%, which isn't going to produce a really open crumb (at least not in my hands). Do a TFL search for "65% hydration baguette" and you'll find a number of posts, including proth5's formula, which can result in a more open crumb.


Baguettes are a challenge to shape so they look like baguettes.  Ciril Hitz has a terrific video on how to shape baguettes.


I agree with Stephanie about ditching the bottled water.  If you drink the water from your tap, use it for baking.  Draw a jug the night before, if you are concerned about chlorine, and let it sit out overnight.  


A good read (if you haven't already) is David Snyder's SFBI experience in mixing baguettes


Finally, if you want to play with 75% hydration baguette dough, take a look at SteveB's baguette formula.  I've made it using KAF AP flour.  It produces a beautiful crumb.  The hand mixing is a good experience.  As is practice, practice, and more practice.


BTW, Kosher salt is fine.

KneadToKnow's picture
KneadToKnow

Quote:
I'm a bit perplexed why KAF is calling what sounds like a poolish a "starter," when so many people associate starter with sourdough. There's nothing sourdough about the referenced baguette recipe.
Yeah, I found that odd as well, but figured I was wrong thinking starters were just sourdough things. It seems they use "starter" and "poolish" as interchangeable terms.
Quote:
Do a TFL search for "65% hydration baguette" and you'll find a number of posts, including proth5's formula, which can result in a more open crumb.
I'll do that now*. Will that also make the inside crumb more.... "leathery"? I doubt that's the correct term but that's what my mind keeps going back to. Right now what I'm producing is quite soft like store-sandwich-bread, not "tough" like french breads I'm familiar with.

 


* EDIT:  That recipe uses a sourdough starter.  :o\


Quote:
Ciril Hitz has a terrific video on how to shape baguettes.
Interesting video. One part does make me want to bang my head on my cutting board though. He makes a point of telling us to degass (sp?) the bread before shaping, as he squishes the dough down, pushing out all the air. Yet here people talk about being careful not to squish out the air so you keep nice big air bubbles. These seem like contradictions (like do and do not use tap water) and as a newbie to bread just confuse the heck outta me :)
Quote:
I shape 50 - 60 baguettes a day at work on any given day and I am still working to get good, consistent results.
Well, I'm doomed then.
lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

This baker in this video says not to push the pre-shape dough down when shaping. lol


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP-E8qXuIQ4

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi KTK,


As Larry noted, baguettes are among the most difficult breads to make.  


It takes a lot more than just shaping dough into a stick to make a good baguette - Larry's listed the reasons why they are such a challenge.  I think of them as the Mt. Everest of breads (and I'm still at the bottom of that mountain).


You can modify the KAF formula by making the poolish with four ounces of flour and four ounces of water, plus the yeast.  Use 15 ounces of flour for the dough.  You still are using 19 ounces of flour overall.   You can also increase the hydration by using 8.5 ounces of water when you mix the dough - that will take it a tad over 65% hydration.


As to tap water versus bottled water, well, suffice it to say that one major brand sources some of their water from the Detroit River. 


If you like the taste of the KAF baguettes, just keep practicing and take notes on any changes you make.  Good luck in your quest!

wally's picture
wally

I'm going to echo LindyD's bottom line.  Baguettes are among the most - if not the most - difficult bread for the home baker to succeed at.  How you handle the dough at each stage is critical as is the final shaping.  Then there is properly proofing, scoring and getting decent oven spring from a non-commercial oven. 


In other words, there are a million ways to get an unhappy result and only a few to get a good baguette.


I don't say this to discourage you, but I don't know at what point you are in your baking experience, and if you're fairly new to it - or even to baguettes - you should keep this in mind.  I shape 50 - 60 baguettes a day at work on any given day and I am still working to get good, consistent results.


Larry

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker


> 2) King Arthur unbleached AP flour.


Maybe switch to using unbleached bread flour. 


I can still get bubbles inside with a tacky dough. Try not to push and press on the dough after it has risen and during the shaping. I let the dough proof on a floured tray, instead of in a bowl, with plastic wrap covering the dough. 


Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

The difference comes in the type of bread you are trying to produce, and dough that you have.  If you are making a sandwich type loaf, small holes and tender, usually has some enrichment to it, then squishing out a lot of the air bubble can be a good thing.  The next rise will produce enough to make it produce a nice loaf without big air bubbles in it, which for that type of loaf makes really nice sandwiches. 


Most people who are looking to make baguettes, usually are looking for large airy holey bread, like you saw in the posts above.  The dough is high hydration, usually just flour, water, and yeast or soudough, and salt.  The whole idea is to keep as many airy holes as you can, while at the same time trying to have a nice torpedo like shape and a big oven spring. 


When I make baguettes, if I know that I am going to use them more for sandwiches I tend to push more of the gas out when I am shaping them, and less if I want the larger holey appearance. 


Don't worry, you will get the feel for it the more you make bread.  A lot of it is an experiment, till you find the way that works for you and gives you the bread YOU like to eat.  Most people have a few standard loaves that they make regularly, that they have "mastered" for their own use, and then sometimes experiment with new ones they see or find recipes for.


As always, I am truly impressed with people who have the level of experience that some of the people do on this forum, that take the time to not only answer posts, but give such really good advice.  I learn from you and thank you for sharing your knowledge.


Joanne

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

I just rewatched the video of Ciril Hitz and I think while he says he is "degassing" it, you can still see some of the bubbles under the surface, which is exactly what you want.  If you watch closely, he isn't totally deflating the dough, like using a rolling pin would.  He uses his finger and flattens and spreads the dough out, redistributing a lot of the air inside but even as he rolls it around he's not breaking the doughs gluten and allowing them totally out.  Hope that makes sense, it's the gentle but firm thing that takes a lot of practice and is the reason baguettes are really hard to make at the quality produced in a bakery.


Joanne

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Did you read the accompanying blog? Like many of their recipes, this one includes a link to a step by step blog; a very long one at that(many questions, answers, comments). I find many of their blogs are quite a source of additional info.


That said, even their own results, as pictured, are hardly what I would call "holey". In fact they say it is not likely to turn out "artisan holey". As mentioned, hydration/recipe may be one factor, but beyond that, technique and experience are more important, to echo Larry.


http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2008/05/02/baguettes-do-try-this-at-home/#more-1233


Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

Thanks MrFrost, don't know why I didn't think of looking at the blog for that particular bread.  I usually have such good luck with King Arthurs recipes, so was rather perplexed with what I read when I simply looked at the recipe and not the blog. 


Joanne

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Jo_Jo, I suspect there might be a little miscommunication here. I was commenting moreso, to the op(original post, or poster), than to anything you posted.


Just to let you know, if you didn't know already, the typical way to reply to a specific comment(besides the op), is to click on "reply" at the bottom of such comment.


Nice breads by the way(in your links). I too have difficulty getting the really big holes, mainly from lack of practice, as I typically tend towards more (somewhat)enriched breads and rolls.

Jo_Jo_'s picture
Jo_Jo_

Thanks!  I was actually just commenting, because I totally didn;t get that recipe on King Arthur until I saw the actual blog.  Then it made a lot more sense!  I enjoy your posts, you always seem to come right through and speak the obvious!  Oh, and I wasn't sure who you were speaking to, but I thought it was worth it to let the original poster know I agreed with what you said and had made the same mistake. 


Joanne