The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Troubles with baguettes

ouhrabko's picture

Troubles with baguettes


i´m trying to find a way, how to make nice, airy baguettes.  Without success.   Actually there is probably most troubles are somewhere between  shaping and  baking.  I'm using white, high gluten  75% hydrated dough,  mostly pre-fermented at fridge, once i´ve tryed  Reinhart´s poolish baguettes.  I have fully developement gluten.   That stick, what i'm able to produce are not bad, but it have crumb like a normal buns, or white bread.  They are not  nice, fluffy baguettes. And  crust are not perfect to.


How i can do it at home?  

First problem i have with proofing gadgets. I´ve try normal cotton cloth with flour - like for proofing bread in a basket.  But the dough is sticking to fabric and when i´wanted to get into an oven, i've lost most of proofed volume.  I've tried make  some homemade metal proofing pan, from aluminium folie and some wires.  Nice for proofing, but unusable for baking - aluminium reflect heat for tom of baguettes and  bottom is still raw.  But moving it from that stuff to oven is better, than from  cotton cloth.

So - question one - how to improve proofing and moving baguettes to oven without buying  special equipments?  

And second weak point is baking.  The hydrated  dough is not growing a lot at my oven. My scoring lines are almost not rising.  After baking it´s just little bit  wider, but definitely not like at  most baguettes.  I have large pan with water in oven from beginning of heating,  i´m  using water mist for dough after scoring and  got some water mist  to oven during baking.   Temperature for baking is about 250 celsius and time about 20 minutes.

Qestion two -  do i use proper temperature and steaming process?

thanks for your ideas

breaducation's picture

I think you should try reducing some of the hydration. A 75% hydration baguette is very high in water content. A baguette this hydrated will be very difficult to score and I have a feeling you are having trouble getting a strong dough because it is not rising very well in the oven. Also, it is fully possible to have a not very open crumb with high hydration if your dough is not strong enough. You can achieve very open crumbs with less hydration when it comes to baguettes. Perhaps try lowering your hydration to 71 or 72%. This will be more than enough hydration to achieve an open crumb and it will be much easier to give the dough strength and get a good rise.

dmsnyder's picture

I assume you are a home baker.

1.  I agree that you will find a 68-72% hydration dough much easier to work with. I suggest you perfect your technique with a lower hydration dough. Note that you can get an open crumb with an even lower hydration dough, if you do everything correctly. (See: Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough) You will get a more open crumb by avoiding over-mixing and allowing a good bulk fermentation but avoiding over-proofing.

2. Baguettes are generally made with lower gluten flour - French T55 or American "All purpose flour." You will get a thinner, crisper crust with lower gluten flour.

3. Ideally, baguettes are proofed on a couche made of baker's linen. I'm sorry I cannot help with baking supply sources in Prague. You might ask at a bakery. They might give you a source or sell you a piece. An alternative is to make a couche from baking parchement. The advantage is you can bake on it. You don't have to transfer the loaves.

4. My impression is that some of your problem getting an open crumb may be due to rough handling of the dough in dividing and shaping. At that point, you need to avoid deflating it too much. At the same time, you need to shape the baguettes to form a tight gluten sheath. There are some very good videos on that illustrate dough handling. I like those of Ciril Hitz especially.

5. Oven spring will be best if your oven is preheated with a baking stone, you avoid over-proofing, you steam the oven for the first part of the bake. There are many ways to steam a home oven. I suggest you search TFL for discussions of this and try several techniques to find the one that works best for you.

6. Baguettes should bake in 20-25 minutes. They are usually baked at 460-480 dF. You can adjust the time and temperature that gives you the crust coloration you want. 

There are many other fine points, but I just tried to hit the ones I think are most important and address your questions.

Happy baking!


isand66's picture

Instead of the bakers couche you can try to use parchment paper on the back of a cookie sheet with no rim.

You can bunch the baguettes up againt the paper and when ready to bake slide them off the cookie sheet still on the paper directly onto your stone.

ouhrabko's picture

I´ve take something like allpurpose flour and litle bit a spaltz and rye and use 65% hydratation. The rolls are better and easy to handling than previous, definitevlly nice crust.  But I´m not able to make  french baguettes, still. For proofing i´ve used simple hods make from aluminium folies and it´s worked quite good. (have no chance to got profesional proofing cloth in czech republic. Actually it is really hard to got real baguettes here.) For next time i probabely have to buy baking stone, i´m afraid, that there are not a chance to make it just with pans. And i its useful gadget.

dmsnyder's picture

Most baker's linen sold in the US is actually imported from France. If you search the internet, I bet you could find a source at a reasonable cost.