The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

BBA vs. Glazer French bread?

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

BBA vs. Glazer French bread?

So I got the BBA from the library last week (great read!) and have made 3 loaves with the pate fermentee (2 pain de campagne, 1 French bread).  The taste is delicious, the crust is very nice, but I don't have very big holes.  The Acme Baguettes from Glazer's Artisan Baking Across America, however, has given me big holes every time.  Any suggestions where I might get bigger holes from the BBA?

 

Thanks.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...seems odd again another of the BBA recipes doesn't have big holes.  I really do like that book but also had problems (as did others) achieving large holes with his ciabatta recipe.  I have that book, which I've liked, but have not made his French bread recipe yet.  Does it need more water?

I love Glezer's book's Acme Baquettes recipe.  In fact, I just made them again today.  YUM! 

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Not this again..., but here goes. So, I deconstructed the BBA and Glezer french bread recipes to some extent, trying to answer the question what's different that could produce or not produce as many holes. The consistency of the dough is one thing. In BBA the water specification would lead to anywhere from 62 to about 68 percent hydration for 6-7 ounces. It also uses 1/2 bread flour, 1/2 AP flour for both the pate fermente and dough, which would be higher protein than Glezer, which I think is all AP flour. The hydration in Glezer Acme french bread is right around 65%. So, I think if you drift down toward the 6 oz in the BBA recipe, maybe add flour while kneading, and protein levels are higher, it is likely you could end up with an effectively much stiffer dough than in Glezer. That should have an effect on the hole structure. Maybe this is one difference. Also, the instructions in Glezer, as with the ciabatta, emphasize a softer dough and talk about adding some water if that's not what you have. Finally, there is the issue of folding later. Maybe less early mixing/kneading and more later folding is helping the Glezer version, as in the ciabatta? The other thing is that the pate fermente is a very small part of the Glezer recipe. Poolish is used for most of the preferment. Maybe there is therefore more acetic acid in the BBA recipe, as Glezer says that biga is for the high acetic acid levels to stiffen up weak Italian flours, which might also lead to a stiffer dough with less holes in the BBA version? I have done something similar to the Glezer recipe, but I use my sourdough starter for poolish. It seems to work fine, but also has somewhat smaller more regular holes. So, maybe the higher acid levels in the sourdough starter or the fact I was using bread flour is resulting in my crumb structure for that recipe. However, I have not made this recipe in a long time, and handling the dough with folds during the rise and less early mixing might make a big difference, something I wouldn't have done the last time. Also, I probably had not been as careful about what the feel of the dough ought to be the last time I did this recipe. I remember being very happy with the sourdough flavors in it, and it was very good bread for a cheese fondue, which was the purpose that motivated me to make it. Anyway, overall this reminds me of the ciabatta discussion we had a while back, which was very educational for me. Have fun telling me what you think about this way of looking at the two recipes.

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

I'm going to ignore the sarcasm.

 

I'm from Canada, where bread flour and AP aren't all that different (well, they're a lot more similar than they are in the States - both approx. 12% protein), so that won't explain it.  But your point about hydration is a valid one - I think it calls for another experiment.  (:  Interesting idea about acetic acid - I'll keep that in mind for the next time I make this recipe.  Yes, Glazer's recipe has a smaller proportion of starter to final dough, but she also has a poolish and a "scrap dough", where the scrap dough is similar to BBA's pate fermentee, and the poolish has more water in it...

 

I think, too, that I like Acme recipes in general - I just watched an Acme segment last night from the online Julia Child videos and wrote down the recipe.  I'll give it a try this weekend, I think.

 

Any other thoughts?  Anyone else had the same results?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Glezer seems to say, though I'm not sure I got it right, that the firmer pate fermente and biga would add acetic acid relative to a poolish, which she describes as sweeter. She says the biga is used to firm up doughs made with Italian flours. She says that the pate also adds acid in the Acme recipe. The biga and poolish discussion was all around page 103, where the discussion of the various preferments is. So, I was guessing that the BBA recipe would have more acid in it and therefore might be stiffer and change the hole structure.

Sorry, I didn't mean to be sarcastic. I just was alluding to the long "Ciabatta Challenge" thread with Zolablue where there was so much work done trying to figure out what makes ciabatta dough have good holes, with contributions from several participants, including even multiple ciabatta pictures and so on. I got hooked and was into it and ended up spending a lot of time on it. It seemed to start up when we were discussing problems getting holes with the BBA recipe vs. the Glezer recipe, which sounded exactly like the beginning of this thread, which is what I meant by "not this again". I learned a lot about ciabatta, high hydration dough handling, the effects of protein, and so on. Anyway, I had no intention to be sarcastic - just was kidding around, and sorry if it came out wrong.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

...and pseudobaker, you would chuckle too if you'd read that ciabatta thread.  I knew immediately what Bill was referring to, trust me, he meant nothing sarcastic in what he said.  We had quite a time discussing and baking ciabatta bread and it was a lot of fun.  Maybe we should give this a go on the French bread, too.

I'm actually looking for other interesting French bread recipes.  A friend on another forum makes Julia Childs' recipe and she has started using her sourdough starter in it as well.  I would love to try it but I'm not sure how much of my starter to use since I keep a stiff starter.  But this woman is not only a fabulous cook but a fabulous baker and you should see her breads.  They are simply gorgeous every single time.  Her French bread is so mouth wateringly good looking!  Any interest in that one?

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Zolablue,

Thanks for explaining "not this again...". I just wasn't thinking how that sounded, but I see it could be taken the wrong way in isolation, so I hope pseudobaker will forgive me.

As far as looking at that recipe and trying to do some converting, it sounds interesting. Maybe you could give me more specifics where to find it, or post the basic recipe. I'd then take my shot at converting it, and we could see if there are adjustments from there.

Bill

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pseudobaker,

The comparison of the preferment difference (spreadsheet) in the two recipes seems more clear if stated this way:

Using flour proportions in the preferments and final dough, the BBA recipe has about the same  proportion of total flour coming from preferments as the Glezer recipe (a little higher in BBA), but in BBA it's all from a pate fermente, whereas in Acme/Glezer it's about 60% from poolish and 40% from pate fermente. So, even though the overall hydration is similar if you use 7oz instead of 6oz of water in the BBA recipe, the BBA version should have higher amounts of acetic acid that might stiffen the gluten and give a smaller more uniform hole structure.

Other than that, there is some difference in handling suggested, i.e. folding vs. just kneading at the beginning.

The info on AP vs. bread flour in Canada is interesting. With the flours I'm using (KA bread flour and AP flour usually) I think there would be a small but noticeable difference in water absorption and texture of gluten using 1/2 bread flour vs. all AP flour.

That's all I can think of, and I'd be very interested to know if there are other thoughts or ideas. Comparing two similar recipes that seem to give different results is a great way to learn something new, as happened with the ciabatta comparisons earlier.

Bill

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Thanks for explaining the comments, you two - no, I haven't read the ciabatta thread. No damage done, Bill.

 

But has anyone else had the same results as me?  Please tell me I'm not alone here...

bwraith's picture
bwraith

Pseudobaker,

I haven't made the exact BBA recipe. Instead I use 1:1 starter to contribute the same amount of flour as the pate fermente. I make up the final dough with AP flour, water, salt, and 1/2 tsp yeast. The result tastes very good and rises in a reasonable time, but it doesn't have big irregular holes. The crumb structure is a little bit more dense and regular than what I imagine in a perfect french baguette, which sounds like your result for the BBA recipe.

Do you prefer the flavor of the BBA recipe? I'm wondering why you want to change the BBA recipe to have bigger holes, if you already like the hole structure resulting from the Glezer recipe.

Bill

azaelia's picture
azaelia

I've made the BBA French read three times now, and I'm in the same boat as you. Granted, my shaping skills need work, but no matter how gently I shape it, the crumb remains tight.


I know increasing hydration would help, but honestly I've seen similar hydration French bread doughs create big holes, so I know it can happen and doggonit, I'm going to figure it out. That and I really enjoy the flavor of the BBA bread.


I'm wondering if less initial kneading and utilizing some S&F's during the bulk fermentation would help...but if the BBA recipe just doesn't lend itself to big holes, I might need to find another recipe :(