The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Yet another Baguette Question

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Yet another Baguette Question

Ok guys, I need some expertise here. I've tried making a decent french bread 3 times now and I'm running into some problems and I would like some suggestions. I'm using the BBA recipe weighing ingredients to 70 percent hydration. The first time I did 80 percent hydration and it was really difficult to work with the dough. 70 percent hydration was easier to work with but still a pain. I may drop it to 65 the next time and see how it goes. Anyways, this is what I did. I made the preferment with all bread flour, instead of the recommended 50/50 AP bread. I let the soaker sit out all night. I then mixed the final dough the following morning. I mixed on low speed for 3 minutes. Shut the machine for 5 minutes and then mixed again on speed 3 for 4 minutes. The dough was very slack at such a high hydration. I stretched and folded the dough in the bowl into a rough ball and started the bulk ferment. The dough fermented for three hours and once per hour I did another stretch and fold. I turned the dough out on the work surface and tried to preshape it into little torpedos. This is where I started running into problems. The dough was so wet that it was very difficult to work with. It was sticking to the work surface and my hands and not holding its shape. I tried putting flour on the work surface but as I stretched the dough to make a tight membrane it exposed more raw dough that kept sticking. The dough rested for 5 minutes after the preshape and then I final shaped. Same problems as the preshape. I needed a lot of bench flour to work the dough properly. Only one of the doughs came out shaped properly. After I shaped, I placed the dough on a well floured linen cloth as you would a cartouche. After that I baked according to the directions of the recipe. The crust was too chewy, because I used all bread flour I'm assuming. I think the next time I'm going to use 50 percent bread 25 ap and 25 whole wheat. The main problem was the shaping. The dough was too wet to work with. I'm looking for some suggestions on how to work with a dough that wet. I felt I had to use so much flour that that it ruined the bread. There was too much flour on the outside of the dough that when it baked it didn't caramelize correctly. Here's some pictures...

All i know is that when I watch Ciril Hitz form baguettes there is no worry about the dough sticking to the surface and its much easier to get an even fold. Is it the work surface? the dough hydration? I dont know.

 

 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

Maybe try 65% hydration. I had better luck with a dough that was soft and not so sticky. It was easier to shape with just a light dusting of flour.

For some reason, I always have better luck with two bulk fermentations. First rise until double in size. Gently deflate. Stretch out 4 flaps and overlap them, then form into a ball and back into the bowl to rise until double in size.

As for baking, I was baking at 475 F. The bread always came out moist or underbaked. I did some searches.  The Red Star Yeast troubleshooting guide website said the oven temperature was too high. The site recommended oven temperature for breads with little or no sugar, like French bread, to be baked between 400 F and 425  F.  Finally I got a thoroughly baked crumb at 400 F after baking for about 20 minutes or so.

As for chewiness, I found that I have to bake the bread again in order to crisp the crust and crumb. The bread becomes chewy when it's cold or at room temperature.

dwfender's picture
dwfender

Good advice on the oven temp. The first time I was at 500 the whole time. This last time I lowered it down to four fifty, but maybe another 50 degrees would make a good difference. Do you usually cook an internal temperature or just till it looks done and then you play with the temp to get the crumb right? 

lazybaker's picture
lazybaker

I based doneness on appearance and just hope for the best. I could tell by holding the loaf if it went ok when the loaf feels light. When it's heavy, it's usually a bad sign that it's too moist. Try different oven temperature and see what happens.

The Red Star Yeast has a guide for troubleshooting and baking tips:

http://www.redstaryeast.com/tips-troubleshooting/troubleshooting-guide/problem