Scoring problems with Baguettes
I am playing with a highish hydration dough for baguettes using DonD's method and amounts for Baguettes a l'Ancienne with Cold Retardation
I have been baking for many years now, and have yet to develop a consistent grigne on my baguettes. Certainly I can't get anything as elegant as Don's scoring. Everything seems to go fine, except the scoring.
As you can see from the image below, I get some parts to open up, but not much. The end slash of one loaf opened well, but the others, not so much.
I'm not complaining; it's great tasting bread, with well caramelized crust and good holes in the moist crumb. I get good compliments when I take it to parties. But my friends and family have fairly minimal expectations. Im trying for more, though, mostly for my own enjoyment and edification. The visual impact of a good grigne eludes me.
After S&F and retarded fermentation and rising, the dough is easily doubled in size and full of large bubbles. My method for shaping involves:
- Folding the sides into the middle to stretch the outer skin and form a ball, then rolling the dough tightly and sealing the seam. Bench rest for about an hour.
- Final shaping involves flattening it gently into a rectangle, folding over the two ends into the middle (for more even ends of the laves) and then rolling it towards me to develop tension, and sealing the seam. Roll out gently (starting at the center, of course) to about 20 inches long.
- Final proof is in a linen couche, seam up.
- When done I gently roll each baguette onto a strip of parchment, seam down, and transfer these gently to a large edgeless baking sheet I use as a peel.
- I bake on one and a half square pizza stones, with the lower rack containing a baking pan full of lava rocks, to which I add boiling water before scoring and after loading, for steam.
When I score, I'm using the improvised razorblade and cofee stirrer lame in the picture (new blade; this is the second batch of three scored with it). I wet the blade and cut at a 30 degree angle from horizontal with a confident, smoth "slit". But it does not slide through the dough easily, it always sticks a bit, and I often have to go back and open a couple of places with a second slash on the same line. Could it be over-proofed?
When I score the loaves, the high-hydration dough is relaxed and the baguettes flatter than they are round. The fact that one end of one loaf has better development suggests that it's perhaps a tension-while-shapin issue. Perhaps I need to develop more tension?
The oven has a pretty good vent, though. In the oven the slashes open, but then afer 5 minutes seem to "heal" into smoothly round loaves without tearing further as I'd like them to do. Perhaps the steam does not stick around long enough, and I need a slow-release method (wet rolled towels heated in the microwave, perhaps)?
This batch today I made a double-mix. The baguettes I made today are from half the dough that did not get the cold retardation (for a party this evening). The other half is currently retarding in the fridge for the night, for another event tomorrow. I'll be baking that batch tomorrow afternoon.
I'd appreciate any advice that might help improve tomorrow's batch (or other batches; I make these every month at least, if not more). Thanks a million!