The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

IV - Pasta Flour Baguette Part II - Unexpected New Role

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lumos's picture
lumos

IV - Pasta Flour Baguette Part II - Unexpected New Role

In my previous entry, I blogged about the latest attempt in my years-long desperate journey of trying to make baguettes, as closest as possible to the real thing, only using a mixture of various flours easily available in UK (without having to buy real Type 55/65 in bulk to save P & P and risk of all the bags get infested by flour bugs, again).

The result was not too satisfactory; the crumb was nice and light but too soft-ish and fluffy to my liking and not enough random large holes, though it had a lovely crisp crust and quite agreeable flavour. We had one of them (less of a looker) for dinner on that day and I froze the other one. This frozen one had much better grigne and more volume, so I was hoping the inside would be better than her ugly sister.

Today, I defrosted and sliced it horizontally to make sandwiches for lunch. The inside had slightly more open texture and a bit more large holes than the other one......

(…nor the holes evenly spread through the crumb. Blame my handling not the flour…)

 

 

 

……but not that much more as to send me to the baguetty-heaven. No. However, the crust remained very crisp even after it’s defrosted (@ room temperature for 1 1/2 hrs), much crispier than my regular baguettes would be when defrosted. This was a happy surprise…..No.1.

Today’s filling was Parma ham and watercress with generous dollops of French mayonnaise by Maille, with a hint of Dijon mustard, naturally. Then came the second happy surprise. I'd really want my baguettes to have lots of large, random holes all over, but the problem with this kind of ‘superior’ baguette is it’s not really a good disign as a recipient of spread when you make a sandwich with it. Butter, mayonnaise, mustard or whatever you spread on it tends to disappear into those huge abyss and, as the result, you end up eating too much spread which often overwhelms the filling. But, because this one didn’t have so many large holes at all, spreading the mayonnaise was a piece of ca…….bread. 

 

But those two happy surprises was nothing to compared to what I discovered next. The softish airy crumb and its subtle sweetness, which I’m usually not keen on to find in baguettes, was actually very good vehicle for sandwiches, complimenting the fillings very well, without that unmistakable self-assertiveness a very good baguette tends to have (“Eat me! I’m here! I am GOOD!!”). ……I think I might find a new raison d'etre for this flour in my kitchen. Not quite Cinderella, but still it’s a nice discovery that even a humble pumpkin can be a reliable carriage.

  

  

So…..my long journey in search for a formula of perfect home-made baguettes will still continue….

lumos

Comments

varda's picture
varda

And who needs such an assertive bread when the star of the show is the parma ham!  Glad you put your bread to good use.  -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

Thanks, Varda!  It was just pre-packed Parma ham from supermarket, nothing special,  but quite glad we could enjoy this baguette more than the previous one in this way. Lucky discovery. :)

lumos

holds99's picture
holds99

And a great looking sandwich.

Howard

lumos's picture
lumos

Thank you, Howard. You're always so kind. Much appreciated. :)

holds99's picture
holds99

Lumos,

Thanks for your note.  Your baguettes look as good or better than the ones I used to buy in my neighborhood of Passy when I lived in Paris and went to school there, years ago.  In fact, in those days many of the baguettes found in the small neigborhood bolangeries were made with delivered dough, that is dough made somewhere else, delivered to the bakery, then baked on premises.  Sort of the Dominoes Pizza business model. 

Delivered dough aside, you seem to have created a faux  T55/T65 flour combo that produces a terrific looking baguette inside and out.  Maybe you should consider packaging your flour formula and selling it online under the brand name: L' Angleterre T60.5 Flour. :-)

Keep experimenting---it's working out great!

Best wishes,

Howard

lumos's picture
lumos

Howard, I take back what I said before. You're not just very kind....you're TOO kind! :p

 in those days many of the baguettes found in the small neigborhood bolangeries were made with delivered dough, that is dough made somewhere else, delivered to the bakery, then baked on premises

I think it's still the same in many boulangeries over there. I wouldn't say I'm a frequent visitor to Paris, but in several visits to Paris (and to other towns in France),  I only had a handful of experiences I encountered a very good baguettes. Same for (supposedly) levain breads as well.  True, most of them are still better than breads we get in bakeries/supermarkets here in UK, but not as good as I'd have liked.

I don't know when  your 'those days' were, but when I went to Paris for the first time in my life (early '80s), a friend of mine who happened to be studying there that time and took me to a lovely restaurant.  I still can't forget the taste. It had slightly darkend crumb with beautiful sheen, lots of random, large holes and proper bites! Just a kind of baguettes I love.  You see the profile photo on my posts? That's the best baguette I've ever made and was quite similar to the baguette I had in that restaurant. The problem is.....it was still a very early days in my serious breadmaking and didn't even think of recording the formula or method deligently, so I can't remember how I made it!!

I don't think this particular combination of flours, including pasta flour, was a right choice to emulate T55/65 flour, because, more than anythin, the texture is just wrong; too soft and fluffy.  My usual mix of just strong flour+plain flour to lower the protein level & small amount of rye+WW+wheatgerm was probably more akin to the real stuff.

My daughter is in Paris at the moment with her school friends to enjoy their last time together before they set off to different universities come autumn, so naturally, she's on the mission to buy a few bags of T55/T65 flour for me.  She rang me yesterday to check what she's buying is the correct flour. Glad she did, because the only flour the supermarket near their flat (in Le Marais) had was bleached flour. So I told her I only want unbleached one, and no need to buy any flour if she can't find it. 

I'm hoping she'll find unbleached T55/65 during the stay.... No terrorist attack or Eurostar breakdown until she bring me back French flour, please! :p

 

varda's picture
varda

daughter understands exactly how important this is.   My daughter is in Pnomh Penh (sp?) for the summer and she told me there were really good baguettes and other french breads there.   I asked her to send me a picture, but none yet.    I had noted your profile picture and short of the right flour, the baguettes you are posting on now look amazing.   -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

Don't worry, she knows it too well. She's had 18 years of hard lessons to learn how her mother was obsessed with anything food related, especially with breads last few years.  Sometimes when I call her to come down to the kitchen, she always says, 'What? Is it bread again?'  She's very well trained. :p  She's even started calling me "Mrs.Baker" 

Phnom Penh sounds really interesting. Though I'm from Japan originally, I've never been to any of South East Asian country except for Taiwan. My friend's daughter spent a few months in Cambodia a couple of years ago during her gap year, and she said Cambodia was the country she enjoyed most, both the people and the food. That area had a lot of French influence in 19-20th century, so it's understandable they still have good French breads.  Hope your daughter's having a wonderful time there. Maybe she's enjoying so much that she wouldn't have time to do a boring job as taking a picture of baguettes for you. ;)

lumos's picture
lumos

She just rang me 10 minutes ago, and told me what she thought 'bleached' flour was actually not bleached. Apprently her friend who's supposed to better in French than my daughter thought 'farine de blé'  meant it's bleached. (It's ok, she's reading Natural Science at cambridge from autumn, not French...)  So I quickly told her to get two bags each of T55 and T65, and they are organic, too! Yippeeeee!!!

 

The only problem is....if I get those genuinely French French flours, I won't have any excuse for the result of my baguette making any more...........

varda's picture
varda

let me just say good luck, and I'm looking forward to seeing your authentic french breads!  -Varda

lumos's picture
lumos

Pressure...... I might as well pretend my daughter accidentaly dropped the bags on the Seine.....

holds99's picture
holds99

I lived in Paris in 78-80.  If I hadn't run out of money I would probably still be there.  My wife and I have been back once since and I truly love that city.  As the American writer Ernest Hemmingway said: If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a
moveable feast."  To that I say, amen!

Here's hoping you daughter finds a few bags of unbleached T55/T65 and you can make your original baguette formula.

Hang in there and keep fiddling around with your baguette formula.  It's akin to the quest for the Holy Grail. :-)

Howard

lumos's picture
lumos

You must've been there when I was there, then. It was only for a week in late March '80 on the way back to Japan from England. 

Food in England in those days were really.......er.....you know.....(It's not like that at all anymore  now! Things have changed here. Seriously! ;)), so after a few months of English food, eating French food was just heaven!  The other friend who was in England with me joined us at this restaurant, and she actually started crying, literally,  with joy, saying 'Oh, yes. I've forgotten this is how food should taste like....!!' (though I must say it was an exceptionally good restaurant as well)  But yes, you're right. Even in those days, most of the breads we had in less prestigeous places were really mediocre. (We were still students, so we couldn't afford to eat at a Michellin starred restaurant every night!)

Have you been back there at all since then? 

lumos

holds99's picture
holds99

Lumos,

Yes, Charlene, my wife, and I went back about 20 years ago, but haven't been back since then.  We plan to go within the next 12 months. 

I do remember the food in England in those days.  I also have heard that the food is far better now.  No question about well prepared french cuisine.  There were, and I'm sure there still are, abundant cafes and bistros in the Passy and Auteuil neighborhoods, and around the city, where the food was/is reasonably priced and quite good.  I recall being in a bistro on Ilse St. Louie and ordering cassoulet, which is a rich combination of baked beans and meats.  It's a standard dish served in Southwestern France.   It doesn't sound very exciting but when it's done correctly it's simply wonderful, accompanied with crusty pain de compagne.  When I lived in Paris I managed to attend the food show in Lyon and that was quite an experience.  They had stalls where they sold everthing in the way of food and wine, including fresh truffles.  At one of the stalls they had the truffles in a plastic bag and you could put your face into the bag and smell the truffles.  Wow!  Pure purfume.  I enjoy haute cuisine but prefer French country cooking. 

Actually, I was traveling around England just before coming home and ended up in a pub outside London where I sat at the bar next to a lorry driver.  We struck up a conversation and he told me that I had to try the mushy peas.  I had no idea what they were, but I gave them a try and they weren't bad.  Anyway, we sat a had a few pints and it turned out that he had been a drummer in a rock and roll band and had toured the U.S. with the band.  They had a hit with Red Rubber Ball and he said that he and the band appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in the U.S., in the 1960's, I think.

Lots of great memories.

Howard

lumos's picture
lumos

The flat they are staying is very near Ilse St.Louie. The ground floor is a bisro, so I hope she'll report me back how the food there is like....though she said they'd cook most of the meals themselves to save money.  I do sometimes make Cassoulet myself, but only very, very occasionally, like once in 2-3 yrs,  because it's so heavy and, as you know, it's not worth making it unless you make huge amount and we're only the family of three.  And I prefer enjoy my homemade confit de canard as it is, just re-heated and crisped up in the oven.

Yes, I've heard Lyon is really great for food. Our family friend whose wife is a French once lived in Lyon because of the husband (American)'s business. She said the culinary standard there was very high even for French.  She told me what sort of school lunches were served there, and the list sounded like a proper french restaurants outside France!

Many European countries on the continent still have lovely local markets.  In Britain, lots of farmer's markets are springing up recently all over the country, but they're still far and between compared to our continental friends, and they are all so expensive!  That sort of market here is something 'special' rather than 'everyday thing' like on the Continent.  But still, if you ever come to London, please go and visit Borough Market and the new farmer's market on the South Bank in London. Brilliant and unique thing about these market is that there're lots of goodies from all over the world, not just local produce, which, I think, is very British, especially London-like.

Mushy peas......it's quite nice if it's made fresh with fresh mint or the new version in recent food boom that's made with fresh green peas, but if not (often served straight out of a tin/can in cheap eateries), it's something I still can't stand after 25 yrs....:p You must've had a better one!

lumos 

Syd's picture
Syd

Very presentable baguettes, Lumos.  There is an ideal ratio of large irregular holes to crumb and I don't think you were too far off.  Perhaps just slightly more.  It is such an individual thing, though.  Personally, I don't like too many holes as I prefer my filling not to fall through the cracks.

Nice baking,

Syd

lumos's picture
lumos

Thank you, Syd.

I often make the baguettes that I wasn't happy with the result into sandwiches rather than accompanying it with meals, but this one just happenend to be an ideal 'make' for the sandwich, which I only noticed when I bit into it. Totally unexpected.

The bestest baguette crumb I've ever made was the one you can see in my profile picture.   It was the second or third attempt on baguette making and just before I started taking breadmaking seriously, so I didn't record how I made it and, naturally, I can't remember how to make it again!!  I've tried to re-create several times but have never managed to make the crumb like that.  Actually I was so thrilled with the result, it was the first ever time I'd taken a pictures of the bread I made.  Thinking back, it might've been the reason why I became so obsesses with breadmaking. The grigne on that baguette was terrible, though.....almost non-existent. :p

lumos