The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish

Mebake's picture

Hamelman's Baguettes with Poolish

This is my second try at baguettes, my first was unworthy of a blog, it was overmixed, shaping was lousy, and crust and color were lacking. Now that iam getting the hang of it, i really love Poolish baguettes. The nutty fragrance of a poolish is indeed intoxicating.

I adhered to Hamelman's book instructions, including very moderate mixing times,  but my final proofing was 50 minutes instead of 1-1.5 hours (my kitchen was warm). I did bake boldly, and the baguettes came out crusty and cracked loudly out of the oven, but i admit.. i have left the baguettes for longer than called for 35 minutes without steam, and vented steam from the oven throughout the bake, which caused the crust to thicken, and the baguettes  crust to be extra thick and crumb to be drier than desired. This, however, was a good bake, a far cry from my first baguettes.

EDIT: I did infact stray from hamlman's folding regime. I folded once after 1 hour but found the dough truely undeveloped as the mixing was very brief. I folded the dough again after 20 minutes and then after 10 final minutes.




pmccool's picture

those are still some lovely breads.  From where I sit, you appear to be making good progress with this simply elegant but not at all simple bread.

Good work!


Mebake's picture

Thank you Paul! you've always been such an encouraging TFL member. True, Baguettes are a challenge to perfect.

Winnish's picture

Let me put it this way - I would lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvve to eat now one (or two..... or three)  of these baguettes.
The only thing that is missing is butter. No worry - I always have tons of butter in the fridge :)

Syd's picture

Nice looking crumb, Khalid.  I would be very happy with those if that was my second attempt.  Now you just have a little work to do on the shaping and scoring.  Check out Hamelman's King Arthur series of videos on shaping and scoring of baguettes.  I learned a lot from them.  Look forward to seeing your progress. 


Floydm's picture

Those look great, Khalid.  The crumb is beautiful and you did an excellent job scoring them.  Bravo.


dmsnyder's picture

Especially considering those are just your second batch of baguettes.

Note that Hamelman's mixing times are for a large capacity professional spiral mixer. I find that, for mixing in a home KitchenAid mixer, doubling Hamelman's times turns out just about right.


AnnaInMD's picture

wish mine would look this good :)



GSnyde's picture

I'm always working at improving the dough quality, shaping and scoring of my baguettes.  It's a worthy enterprise.

Looks like you've got the knack.


Gwynster's picture

I'm new on TFL but if this is the standard for most loaves on this site I'm very excited!

lumos's picture

Great looking baguettes, Khalid! Really astonishing it's only your second try, million times better than my second set of baguettes. :p

Hamelman's poolish baguette  is one of my favourite baguette recipes, the one I use most frequently. Can I please ask you what flour you used for those baguettes?  If my memory serves me right, you usually use Waitrose's flour, don't you? (Sorry if I remember wrongly) I use Waitrose flour, too, used to use Leckford Estate flours and switched to their organic flours more recently. I usually mix strong flour and plain flour (anything between 75%  strong +25% plain to 50/50 of strong and plain) to emulate french flour with lower protein than UK bread flour. I also often add a tiny amount of WW flour to compensate for UK flour's lower ash level. I'm still trying to find the best combination of flours to produce a sort of baguette I'd like before I surrender and start ordering proper Type 55 flour from artisan mills like Shipton. It'd be great if you could kindly share your thought and method about the way you use/combine your flours.


Mebake's picture

Thank you Winnish for the warm compliment.

Thank you Syd! That is precisely what i've been doing for months... watching shaping videos, especially Hamleman's Video that Lindy thankfully lead us to. I learned a lot from David's scoring tutorial/video, hitz video, and stared at the wonderful baguettes baked by many TFL memebers. Incidentally, though, my coffee stir on which i mount the razor  has broken in half. Ironically, having a shorter handle helps with scoring, it gives a firmer grip.

Thank you Floyd!! i'am delighted to have achieved good bakes during my TFL membership.

Thank you David! and thanks for the mixing times Tip, i should always remember that.

Thank you Anna! Youtube videos on shaping baguettes were such a great help.. If you observe the steps carefully, you can bake great baguettes too.

Thank you Glenn! hands on experience, working with different recipes, and getting used to sticky doughs.. all helped me with these baguettes.. i wouldn't have baked such baguettes 6 months a go.

Thank you Gwynster! I hope i would reach to TFl standard.. some TFL members like David, Shiao Ping, Txfarmer, breadsong, and many others continuously push the  standard upwards.

Thank you Lumos! Firstly, i wouldn't worry about my ash level, as most flours i use have an average ash level of 0.55. I use a blend of flours to strengthen my weaker local flours. Living in Dubai - UAE, i use local patent flours (all purpose) of protein content: 10.5 , and ash level of 0.55. For better bakes, i add waitrose strong whote bread flour (protein content of: 12.9). lately i've been trying different flours from various stores... and playing around with them. Nothing in particular, i only use the harder flour for the pre-ferment/poolish rather than the final dough, as they take the abuse of long slow fermentation without breaking down.



MadAboutB8's picture

Looking good Khalid. You're on the right track, a great one too. I love the crumb, it's open, creamy and mouthwatering.

You did a wonderful job.


lumos's picture

Thank you Khalid for reply.

Didn't know you lilve in Dubai. Had always assumed you're in UK because you often mention you use Waitrose flour. :p

 i only use the harder flour for the pre-ferment/poolish rather than the final dough, as they take the abuse of long slow fermentation without breaking down.

This is very interesting, because I've been always doing the opposite way; using softer flour for pre-ferment/poolish because I'd assumed longer fermentation would strengthen gluten. I think  Hamelman said in his book not to use high protein flour to feed sourdough, so I've been adapting it to poolish, but I might've been doing wrong?   I'll try your way next time and see how it works.

ananda's picture

Hi Khalid,

Lovely baguettes to make a good alternative to your lovely wholegrain loaves.

I would always use the stronger flour in the leaven rather than the final dough, as you do, if I were mixing stronger and weaker flours in the dough formula.   To me strong flour gives much better performance in the long fermentation period required.

I also agree with David that you should not equate your Kitchen Aid with the spiral mixers which Mr. Hamelman uses in the King Arthur Bakery.

All good wishes


breadsong's picture

Thanks for your very kind words above - and I remember your helpful comments to me after my first batch of baguettes :^)
I think your baguettes are lovely - the scoring and crumb look really good - so nice to see!
:^) from breadsong

Mebake's picture

Thank you, Sue! It is the encouragements i receive here that makes me endure all the toils of baking.

Lumos, As Andy said, Harder flours are the preferred choice when it comes to flour mixtures. Hamelman referred to the High Gluten flours, ones you and i can't get hold of (protein content of: 13% - 16%). Waitrose organic White bread flour contains protein content of 12.9%, which is high, but not classified as high gluten. As to strengthening the flour, long fermentation time of your levain demands a flour wich does not break down during acidic conditions that a starter bacteria promotes. You are better off using the harder flour in the levain, as you don't want any dough strengthening here, all you want is culture perpetuation, and flavor development. Long fermentation does not serve to strengthen a dough, especially with sourdoughs. It is in the bulk fermentation that you seek dough strengthening.

Thank you breadsong! and what a lovely tour you had, and the lovely scoring you did for you bakes... you are an artist.

breadsong's picture

thanks Khalid!  :^)

lumos's picture

Thank you, Khalid and Andy, for the info. Looks like I've been doing wrong for many years. :p  Now I can do the right way around in the combination of flours for preferment and final dough from next time I make poolish baguettes. :)

High Gluten flours, ones you and i can't get hold of (protein content of: 13% - 16%).

 In UK, fortunately many supermarkets sell high gluten flour, both by large manufactures and their own brand, these days, including Waitrose who sells their own brand high gluten flour, 'Canadian Very Strong Flour,' with 15% protein, which is my choice of flour when I make bagels.

Can you get Waitrose Leckford Estate flour over there? I used to use it rather than their organic flour until recently because it has lovely flavour and creamy colour. It's Richard Bertinet's secon favourite flour after Shipton's. I switched to Waitrose organic mainly because it seems to work better with sourdough and, with lower protein level than Leckford's  and, with lower protein level than Leckford's, I hoped it may be slightly closer to French flour.

Or if you can get Dove's flours there, that's quite good, too. Works wonderfully with sourdough.

Mebake's picture

hi, Lumos!

Unfortunately for me, i'am limited to few choices when it comes to flours in general, and specifically Bread flours. Aside from being organic and highly overpriced, there aren't a spectrum of brands i can choose from. Over here, the only bread  flours you'll find are either : Waitrose Organic Strong White bread flour, or Hovis Stron White bread Flour, both imported by Spinneyes only.

Lucky you, i'd say!



lumos's picture

Good morning, Khalid, :)

What about AP flour? I seem to remember you mentioned using AP flour in another post a while ago. (or am I dreaming? :p)

Because a lot of US based TFLers seem to be able to produce brilliant airy, holey crumb (especially baguettes) with AP flour and because I'd been thinking you were in UK, I was meaning to ask where you got hold of your AP flour.  Is it exported from US or is it made locally?

Can you get UK style plain flour where you are?  I almost always mix strong flour and plain flour to make bread because, as I said in the other thread, UK strong flour is too strong for the sort of breads I make.

BTW, going back to Hamelman's poolish baguette, when I make it, often cold retard the dough for several hours after I mix the poolish and main dough ingredients. It gives a touch more 'body' to the dough and definitely deeper flavour. Also I mix small amount of rye to poolish (a tip from Richard Bertinet's poolish baguette) and tiny amount of WW flour or wheatgerm to main dough for extra flavour, too. This is my favourite and regular way of making my baguettes.

Kind regards,


Mebake's picture

Excellent Ways of Boosting Flavor in a poolish baguette! I'll try it someday. the all purpose flour i use is locally milled from different wheats from different countries.. The resultant flour is marketed for use as breads, pastries and flat breads.