A crusty success - 72% Hydration 50/50 AP/Bread flour
Hi to everyone on TFL! I've been lurking here for a while, trying to absorb as much information as I can. I finally feel like I have some success worth sharing.
I've been practicing baguettes for some time now and the past few weeks I've been more determined to make small tweaks and hopefully improve the results.
My most recent attempt used 50% KA AP and 50% KA bread flour. This gave me the best combination of chew and crisyness to the crust. I've been reducing my hyrdration (I started at 78% originally) and I've more or less settled at 72%. I was worried the lower hyrdration wouldn't yield an open crumb, but that hasn't been an issue. The lower hyrdration has made the dough much easier to work with and my scoring results are improving. Though I'm waiting for a proper lame to arrive in the mail. I'm still waiting for the grigne that let's me hang the bread from my fingertip!
I start with a short bulk fermation, using cold water so the dough never really 'explodes' with gas. I just autolyse for 30 min they stretch and fold every 20min for about 2 hours.
Then it's into the fridge for ~20hs. Once I take it out of the fridge I let it warm up over 1 hours time, stretching and folding a few times. Then a pre-shaping, bench rest, final shaping and a 25min proof. I think I'll try a longer proof next time.
The baguettes are all 250 grams and just fit in the oven at 18", so they are quite thin. This time I let my oven (and stone) warm up for almost an hour, which made a huge impact on the bottom crust. It was nice and thick, but not burned.
I spray the oven with a water bottle ever few minutes during the first 10min of baking. Another trick I've been using (mentioned on TFL frequently) is to leave the bread in the oven for another 5min once they've finished baking. This helps ensure a crisp crust.
I've been lusting for a mixer, but the stretch and fold approach works so darn well I'm not sure if I can every justify the cost. The oven stone was worth it though!
Here are some pictures: