The Fresh Loaf

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I get breadsticks when I want baguettes

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rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

I get breadsticks when I want baguettes

Hi, when I follow my  recipe (let rise until doubled in volume; shape loaves; proof for 2 hours at 85 degrees in humid environment; steam oven with icewater bath, mist loaves before sliding them; mist again 5 minutes later and replenish icewwater bath; then bake at 450 for 15 minutes on middle rack, then for 10 minutes on top rack, with final mist right before taking them out) I wind up with breadsticks.  Hard, very dark brown breadsticks with a crust you could break your teeth on.  No bounce, no crumb.  Yuck.


I tried varying my approach by letting the loaves proof in a couche created with a silicone baking mat.  I use the silicone baking mat to support the loaves, and also to prop up the saran wrap that I use to make a proofing chamger (so the saran wrap doesn't touch the rising loaves but keeps them nice and moist and prevents a crust from forming).  I then leave them in the silicone couche while baking.


I also tried preheating to 550, then turning the oven off when I slide the loaves in, and turning it on at 450 only after I mist for the second time, 5 minutes after they're in the oven.


This approach has worked better, but now my loaves have no crust to speak of on the sides (where the silicone has insulated them from the oven heat) and the crumb is a little raw.  Also, there's still very little bounce. 


What to do?  I either end up with all crust and no crmb, or too little crust and a raw crumb.  Help!

rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

I should add I'm using a pizza stone on the floor of the oven, but not baking directly on the stone.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

http://www.flournwater.com/food_017.htm


Waiting until the dough has effectively doubled in volume often means it gets overproofed by the time you do the final shaping. Using "ice water" bath for steaming actually reduces the amount of steam generated.  If you're proofing based upon time and not based upon how the dough develops you can't possibly get the best proofing results.  You may find you get better results waiting until the dough has been loaded into the oven before misting and by misting only the oven and not the loaves themselves. 


How are you, if at all, slashing to loaves prior to baking?  How are you forming the loaves?   Preheating "to 550, then turning the oven off when I slide the loaves in, and turning it on at 450 only after ... mist(ing) for the second time, 5 minutes after they're in the oven" serves no purpose that I can imagine and baking them "wrapped" in silicone only produces uneven browning.

rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

Hi, thanks for your comments.  I am slashing the loaves prior to baking, but the way I slash doesn't seem to make any difference.  The practice of preheating to 550, turning the oven off, then turning it on again at 450 after 5 minutes when I mist for the second time is a technique that I learned from a blog post on The Fresh Loaf; this one baker reported that she got the best results that way. 


The icewater bath placed in the oven at the same time as the loaves slide in, and replenished 5 minutes into the bake, and the practice of misting at the beginning and then again 5 minutes into the bake is from The Cheese Board cookbook; the Cheese Board is a bakery/cheese shop in Berkeley, California that makes THE BEST BAGUETTES in the world; I've never had a better baguette, not even in Paris.  Seriously, if you're ever in the Bay Area, visit the Cheese Board on Shattuck at Vine in Berkeley.  Every foodie who visits Berkeley acts as though Chez Panisse (across the street from The Cheese Board) is the Mecca for the world's gourmands, but they're wrong; it's really The Cheese Board that's producing food you can't find anywhere else on the planet, IMHO.  So if The Cheese Board says this is how they make their life-altering bageuttes, then I'm going to do it that way.  


Besides, misting the loaves is NOT what's causing the breadstick effect.  Evaporation is a highly exothermic reaction (that's why you perspire: the evaporation of your perspiration is what helps your body stay cool); the evaporation of the water from the loaves' surface should help me to avoid burning the crust. 


As for rise and proof times -- I've tried all sorts of variations at different temperatures and haven't made any real progress with the bounce.   The use of the silpat is the only thing that's really helped the bounce -- I think because it insulates the surface of the loaf and prevents the crust from forming a hard shell too quickly; prolonged elasticity at the surface of the loaf allows the interior crumb to expand.  But of course the silpat also prevents me from getting a nice crust all the way around.   I've thought about removing them from the silpat and putting them on the pizza stone for a final few minutes to crisp them up, but haven't tried this yet.


The one thing the gal who had great success on this website mentioned was that having her dough at 80% hydration was mostly what made her loaves so successful.  I believe her: a wetter dough will have more a lot more interior steam and will give you a much bigger bounce and, one would hope, bigger bubbles inside.  So I've been trying to figure out how to get a loaf at 80%  hydration and I'll be damned if I have any idea what I have to do to get an 80% hydration dough.


My common sense tells me, if the final dough (starter + flour + water + salt) is 80% water by weight, then I have an 80% hydration dough, right?  But I tried that formula this morning, and I wound up with something the consistency of pancake batter.  It was so loose I could hardly manipulate it.  I tried the Peter Reinhart stretch & fold method with this super wet batter (he says it helps firm it up) but without seeing much improvement.   I hvaen't tried baking it yet but I'll be suprised if I wind up with anything I can shape into baguettes, especially since yeast produce water as  abyproduct of their metabolism, so the dough will get wetter as it rises.


Anyway, when I look on the internet for formlas for calculating an 80% hydration dough, I see all sorts of truly bizarre formulae that bear no resemblance to any math I've ever used in an chemistry, economics, albegra, or calculus class.  I mean, it's not like I'm a math whizz or anything, but when I see bloggers write about how their dough is "166% hydration," I just can't follow their logic.  Nothing can be more than 100% water.

rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

Thanks, that page assumes you're using instant yeast.  Is there a calculator for folks using sourdough starter?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Sourdough is just flour and water. Easiest to calculate when one uses  100%(hydration) starter, which means the weight of the water in the starter is 100% of the weight of the flour. In other words, the amount(by weight) of water is the same as the amount of flour(by weight).


In other words, a 100% hydration starter is half water and half flour(again by weight).


Good luck.

rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

Now I'm starting to get it.   So an 80% hydration starter would be where the weight of the total water (both the water in the starter and the water added before kneading) would amount to 80% of the total amont of flour (both in the starter and the flour added before kneading), right?


I am  hopeful that by working with much higher hydration doughs I can get a nice bounce and no burnt crusts.

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Right.

rhaazz's picture
rhaazz

Thank you so much for your help.  So, last night, I made an 80% hydration dough (the dough ws 80% water by weight) and despite using the stretch and fold technique, the dough never really firmed up enough to shape it.


I had to pour it into a couche made from a silpat and bake it like that.  It wwas the consistency of pancake batter.  There was no question of shaping it into a baguette.


I MUST be doing something wrong.

wdlolies's picture
wdlolies

Hi,


I don't know your recipe, but all I can say is that I feel that you're too atouched to it. Relax, look around and find some other recipe and start trying different formulars and than play around. You'lll be fine and you'll love your end products once you get there.


All the best from Ireland


 


Wolfgang


 

placebo's picture
placebo

Your whole baking procedure sounds really complicated.


I concur with the others. You should try a different, simpler recipe. I used this recipe from King Arthur flour before, and they turned out well. There's a blog post that has plenty of pictures so you can see what to expect along the way.