The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baguettes with poolish

tomsgirl's picture

Baguettes with poolish

My husband has been asking for a baguette for forever. I found a recipe online about 2 years ago for french bread. That was okay it's what led me into sourdough and making a starter. I haven't gone back to the baguette since. I have made (one time) mini baguette style loafs with my starter. Except for cinnamon rolls I haven't used yeast for about 2 years. I decided to make Jeffrey Hamelman's Baguette's with poolish from his book Bread. Things went okay I guess. I made 4 baguettes and a loaf. The loaf is darker than I like and the crust is VERY soft?? I put 1 cup boiling water into a heated cast iron skillet that was on the bottom rack of the oven. I bake on a stone I had it in the center of my oven. I sprayed twice with water after 2 mins twice. I also cracked the door with a spoon the last 18 mins of the bake. The loaf was crackling and siging right out of the oven but still a soft crust. The baguettes I turned my oven down to 450 and then 440. They are not as soft as the loaf but still they have a softer crust? I added some pictures. Sorry some are a bit fuzzy I am learning my new camera. Practice Practice Practice...


vtsteve's picture

Nice crumb!

When I'm doing a mix of shapes that includes baguettes, I  bake the baguettes first at the highest temp (480-500F, so it'll be ~460F after loading), on the top rack so they'll get the maximum steam. The batards would go in the second load, with the temperature dropped to 460F.

If you could open the door to spray, and not risk a steam burn, I'd bet your cast-iron pan wasn't hot enough. Try preheating longer, and add *less* water (it won't cool the pan as much, and electric ovens hold steam well). Spraying the loaves probably resulted in a net loss of early steam, which can cause the dark crust and also prevents your scores from opening.

Leave the steam pan in for 10 minutes. Resist the urge to open the door! Then, if there's still water in the pan, remove it so the loaves can dry out (and use less water next time). Rotate the loaves if they're not coloring evenly. Leave the door cracked open for the rest of the bake -- my total bake time is around 26 minutes. My steam pan sits on the floor of my (gas) oven, and it gets *really* hot, so the boiling water flashes to steam. After 10 minutes it's dry and I don't need to remove it.

If you have Bread at hand, there's a set of baguette troubleshooting photos in first color section. Even the pros have trouble!