Hello to all!
I am an ambitous amateur bread baker, particularly intereted in sourdoughs. I've been baking seriously for about a year and a half and I've improved a lot in that time. I can now promise to bring artisan hearth breads to gatherings and feel confident that the loaves will turn out to be both delicious and presentable.
However, I still struggle with what should be very simple loaves. Baguettes are beyond me. They fuse to the parchment paper couche and become hopelessly stuck. Or deflate when I pry them loose. Or if, in desperation, I bake them IN the couche, they sort of steam on the sides and get a flabby crust. I've tried oiling the parchment paper, but that, again, yields a flabby texture to what should be a crisp crust.
Also, I live in a semi-arid climate and the dough dries out very quickly. With a lower-moisure dough, it works very well to spray the loaf lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap while it proofs. The dough stays moist, but non-sticky enough to allow for clean scoring. But with a high-moisure dough like baguette dough, the surface seems to get too sticky to allow the blade to score cleanly and I get ragged edges and pull the soft dough out of shape.
How do I get the dough to stay vertical, be moist but not sticky, and crisp up the crust?
I'm getting a bit tired of eating flat, dense baguettes that resemble scimitar blades in shape and dimension.