The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Novice baguette results

EmelineS's picture
EmelineS

Novice baguette results

 Hello Experts,


I'm a novice baguette maker and I am easily overwhelmed by all of the information on this forum about making baguettes.  So I picked one recipe and gave it a go.  I tried using the "Basic Baguette Formula" ( link below), and got mixed results. 


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/9104/baguette-baguette-and-more-baguette


The flavor and texture of the crumb was good enough, but the crust was not flakey or crunchy.  Suggestions?



 

mccvi's picture
mccvi

It appears you need some steam, or more steam, in your oven.

Mebake's picture
Mebake

Steam, And start off with a high temp (450F) under heavy steam for 15 minutes, and 25 minutes without steam at 425F.


Your Baguettes look good to me..! Work more on your scoring and shaping... you'll get a feeling for dough after more trials..

flournwater's picture
flournwater

If you are "overwhelmed by all of the information on this forum about making baguettes' you are not alone.  Not everyone agrees on the "best" way to achieve excellence in baguettes..  But some folks like a tender crust, others perfer a crisp/crunch crust.  Some like an open crumb, some a tighter more chewy crumb.


I disagree with some of the suggestions already listed.  First, if you're following your posted formula, you already use steam so you don't need any more.  But your linked procedure recommends "make sure you spray the baguette w/ WARM water HEAVILY then...   " and I take issue with that.  You should spray the interior walls of the oven (never the baking stone) but not the loaves themselves.  Spraying the loaves is what producds those frog skin bumps on the loaf surface.  Second, I disagree with the baking times suggested.  My baguettes bake somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes total.  You need to monitor the internal temperature of the loaf (optimum is about 210 degrees) not the time. 


My typical approach to the bake is:


Place a pan (cast iron pan works well) on lowest rack in the oven.  Place the baking stone (or baking sheet) on a rack at mid oven.  Pour 2 ounces of water into the pan,


Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Meanwhile, prepare 3 ounces of boiling water in another pan and set aside; but keep it simmering.


Use a VERY sharp knife or lame tool to cut three or four elongated angular slashes (approx. ¼ inch deep) into the top of each loaf. 


When the oven is preheated, use a towel to cover the glass window in the oven door (if so equipped) and pour the boiling water into the pan on the lower rack. 


Next, load the baking stone/baking sheet with the loaves (if using a baking stone make certain the stone is covered with parchment so as not to be exposed to the spray) and begin baking. 


Use a spray bottle or spritzer, open the oven and spray the oven walls with water. 


Repeat this step three more times at fifteen second intervals.  AVOID spraying water directly onto the baking stone.


Bake 8 minutes, reduce heat to 450 degrees and remove the pan of water from the lower rack.


Continue baking an additional 2 – 3 minutes, the rotate the loaves 180 degrees.


Continue baking 5 minutes longer or until the internal temperature of the loaves reaches 210 degrees.


Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool for at least one hour before slicing.


For a firmer, cruchy crust, leave the loaf in the oven.  Turn the oven off and leave the oven door open.  Wait one hour before removing the loaf to a cooling rack.

mccvi's picture
mccvi

Whatever the approach, this is what I meant by 'more stream'.


 

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

A baguette isn't the easiest loaf for a novice baker to take on in the early stages of discovery.  They can be frustrating, but you can learn so much.  There is help out there from professional bakers who are designing their formulas for people just like you.  The novice, home baker who wants to learn and perfect their loaves. 


I suggest you do what I did.. immerse yourself in learning all you can about this loaf and the science of bread baking.  Take a look at Peter Reinhart's books.. maybe Rose Levy Berenbaum.  You can learn alot from bakers who specifically target their breads to you - the novice home baker that wants to learn.  You will make make dozens of loaves before you find what you want.  I promise!


A baguette takes alot of practice to get it just right.  You'll get there, you just need to try many formulas and different methods and find one that works best for YOU.  There is alot of helpful information out there.. and in here and if you follow the tons of advice you'll get.. you'll go nuts.  As you can see, there is basic disagreement in the simplest of posts on this site.. so I recommend learning from a Master Baker like Reinhart or someone else.  If you don't have The Bread Bakers Apprentice or the Bread Bible, those are two good books to start with.


I wished my first baguettes looked half as good as yours.  I think you are well on your way!  Don't give up!

EmelineS's picture
EmelineS

 Thanks for the friendly welcome and the great advice.  I put "The Bakers Apprentice" on my wish list on Amazon.  I am enamored with France so this sounds like a great book.


2nd try:


I used the same recipe again but skipped the part about directly spraying the baguettes with water.  I used flournwater's recommendation for oven temps, spraying and a pan of water.


 I baked two batches of baguettes.  The first batch used the pan of water.  The first two ounces of water was evaporated by the time the oven was preheated.  Adding the next three ounces was exciting and a little scary.  After 8 minutes the water had evaporated out of the pan and the baguettes were dark brown!   I took the internal temp and it was 205 so I pulled them out.  After cooling, there were not so crusty.


For the second batch, I just did the squirting of water and skipped the pan.  I started at 450 degrees for 15 minutes until the internal temp was 210.  Then I opened the oven door and let them cool on the stone in the oven.   This batch was a nice color but again not so crusty (notice virtually no crumbs on cutting board after slicing).  I sprayed a lot of water so I'm not sure why they come out with "white bread" type soft crust. They taste good but they need the crunch.  Any other suggestions?  (Maybe I should get that book asap!)


Also, is it a bad thing to let the second set of baguettes do their final proofing for twice as long as the first batch while I wait for the first batch to bake?


 Also, any pointers on slashing the loaves?  I have a brand new lame and it just seems to catch and pull a lot, misshaping the baguettes, and making points and pinch marks.  I'm guessing it's my technique.


Here are more pictures:


Batch 1


Batch 1



Batch 2



flournwater's picture
flournwater

Regarding your lame issues.  Are you cleaning (at least rinsing and wiping dry) your blade after each use?  If you leave a film of wet dough residue on the blade between uses the blade will drag.  The trick to using the lame is in the angle you use when cutting and the speed with which you move the blade through the dough.


I think your loaves look pretty good.  Sorry you ran out of water in the preheat session.  The two ounces work for my oven but I realize that depends on the length of time used for preheating so perhaps a couple more ounces would work better in your oven.


I neglected to mention that I remove my stone and allow the loaves to remain in the heated oven lying only on the oven rack.  Perhaps that hindered the crunch.  I have never achieved the level of crunch that is typically associated with commercial (e.g. San Francisco Sourdough) french breads but the method I use has provided a crunchier crust than the cooling rack approach.


Here's my most recent "Baguette for Two" with great flavor, a nice crunchy crust and I was fortunate to get these images before it was devoured.



clickable thumbnail below



 I wonder how high you had the rack in the oven, relative to the heat source.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

Your dough slashing looks much better on Batch #2.  Do you see the difference?  Deeper cuts and they are on top of the loaves.. not to the sides.  Check out that link I posted for you.. I think you'd really learn alot.


I think your breads look very nice in terms of crumb, etc.  I am not sure about your formula though.. I think something could be off there.  The poster for this formula is posting a Straight Dough formula.  Reinhart's Baguettes in BBA uses a pate fermente.  This is a dough you mix up the day before and let it rest overnight in the refrigerator, then add it to the remainder of your dough.  His ovens are set to 500 degrees and he pours a full 8 ounces of water into a pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.  He does spritz the walls of the oven at 30 second intervals a couple of times and when they are done baking, they are removed from the oven and allowed to cool on a rack.  Leaving them in your oven, in my opinion dries out the bread and is not the way to get a good crust.


I've made Peter's baguettes a number of times and have never had major issues, but early on.. it was a challenge.  I've found the more times I've made them, the easier they become. 


I can't wait for you to get his book!  I will encourage you to definitely try his Pain a L'ancienne recipe from the book.. they are gorgeous and if you love a nice, rustic baguette.. I just think they are gorgeous and fairly easy to make.  The other one I'm currently enamoured with is the Dutch Crunch Vienna loaf.. wow!  Love his book, you will too!


You would love Rose Levy Berenbaum's Bread Bible too.. it's wonderful and I love her writing style.  She makes everything so easy.. she is a natural.

BellesAZ's picture
BellesAZ

I posted an interesting link in another discussion to Chef Ciril Hitz as he demonstrates the proper use of a lame.  I thought it was interesting to say the least and extremely informative.  He didn't flour or water his lame prior to each cut.. he just cut and even though I cringed at the dough crumpling up.. it still worked.


Check out this link:


http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/22509/nice-video-demonstrating-lame-cuts-baguettes

EmelineS's picture
EmelineS

Thanks for the link to the lame video, I also found another on youtube by King Arthur Flour.   


I tried a Fine Cooking Baguette recipe today (which I had problems with earlier and it led me to this forum).  This recipe produces a very soft loaf after proofing that is extremely difficult to slash with a lame, so once again I'm frustrated, but I'm learning something every time.


I ordered both books today.  Thanks for your help.


I've made baguettes 4 days in a row now and I can see my shaping skills getting better.  I'm a little scared I'm getting hooked on what may turn out to be a life quest....


 


 

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Thank you for that very well done video reference link, BellesAZ .  I recognized some adjustments I need to make in the stroke.