The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The dreaded baguettes

BarbaraK's picture

The dreaded baguettes

Hi Everyone I'm new to the forum although I've been reading it for a long time as it's so useful.

I've been baking white/rye bread with the no-knead technique for quite a while and quite successfully but, encouraged by the forum, I really wanted to strike out a bit.

Yesterday I made my first batch of baguettes  very exactly following the recipe from Anis Bouabsa.  As far as I'm aware Giusto's flour is not available in the

UK but I used a real French flour from Wessex Mill which I can buy at the farmer's market without paying a whopping delivery charge.

I'm very proud to say that they were absolutely delicious with a crisp crust and a really tasty, chewy inside so I was very pleased with them. Needless to say they're all gone now!  However, I did find that they were so wet and tacky that moving them from the cloth to the oven was almost impossible. I rested them on strips of baking parchment on the cloth and then lifted them onto the baking stone sitting on the parchment.  This didn't seem ideal as I would have preferred the bottoms of the baguettes to sit immediately on the stone and to be a little better baked. 

The French flour is quite a bit softer (9.5 )than the Giusto and am wondering whether this made it so difficult to handle. If anyone can advise if I should use less water next time and how much less I'd be most grateful.


I have noticed that quite a few people have a problem with the folding and rolling and there is a very good video on U-tube from Saveurs, Dartmouth part 1 which I found extremely useful.  There the dough definitely seemed easier to handle and not as tacky as mine.  Baguette dough seems, to me, a little like

teenagers i.e. it's very alive,  has a strong-mind of it's own and you have to be both gentle and firm with it at the same time. Not easy ......

Thanks in advance for any help


Crider's picture

When he was first forming those baguettes, he was looking at the camera instead of his loaves! I bet he makes a lot. Anyway, my thoughts on your issues is to first confirm that your cloth couche is made from linen? If not, that would go far in explaining your problem with sticking.

Also, the Bouabsa formula is 75% hydration which is very high. Try your next bake at 65% hydration and see if things are easier for you. Once you're satisfied with your new loaf forming skills, then move up to higher hydration.

BarbaraK's picture

Many thanks Crider for your helpful advice. I will definitely make the next batch with the 65% hydration and see how that goes.  I  read somewhere

that with a  lower hydration you might sacrifice  some of the flavour and I'm interested to see if this is true.  In any case  there's not much point in

having great flavour if the process is so frustrating you give up making them.

My cloth couche is linen although it's quite a bit closer-woven than the cloth appeared to be in the video and I think it might encourage the dough to

cling to it more than the rougher-textured linen.

Having watched the video (yes he's incredibly fast and practised!) , I think, also, that I didn't use enough firmness with the folding and I'm going to try the stretching  and folding on the board rather than in the bowl as I found the bowl a bit restricting. 

I'll report back if I have any success.

If all the above works I will then experiment with increasing the hydration.

Thanks again


MANNA's picture

When you are moving your baget around use a flipping board. I use one for moving all my free-form loafs around. Its just a thin board shaped to match the bread your moving.

I will be attending a King Arthur class with J.Hammelman coming up regarding baugettes. Keep in touch and I will pass along what I learn to help you.

Justkneadit's picture

Where is the King Arthur class and when if you don't mind?

BarbaraK's picture

Thank you Manna, that's such good advice. I've not come across them before but will definitely get one. There's nothing like the right tool for the job. Your class sounds very interesting and I know we will all look forward to hearing from you about anything that will help.

Your baguettes look great.






MANNA's picture

Thats not a pic of my baguettes, its a pic from breadtopia. King Arthur is in Norwich, VT. You can find out more about the classes offered by going to their website. I was on the wait list for over a year to get in. Be advised though I feel the cost of the classes are reasonable, but the cost of lodging in the area is very high so make sure you have the money.

BarbaraK's picture

Sorry about my error. I'm sure  yours look good too though.

Thank you Manna for all the advice on the courses.  I'm based in the UK so regret I wouldn't be able to do the course.  Vermont is a wonderful

area though; I had a lovely vacation there many years ago.

ananda's picture

Welcome Barbara,

I'm UK-based

Have you found BakeryBits yet?

They have the flipping boards and lots of other useful kit you may need too.   And the service is great!

At 9.5% protein, you are always going to end up with a wet and delicate dough.   You are really relying on that cold long autolyse for everything

Best wishes


BarbaraK's picture

Hello Andy and thanks for your welcome.

Yes thanks I have used Bakery Bits for all my bread-making equipment so far , including the Prior's organic white and rye bread which I love for my no-knead boule, and they do have  great service. Hadn't come across the flipping board so will definitely get one.  Sadly I'm sure you are right

about the low-protein flour being difficult.  I say "sadly"  because the French flour  does have a lovely flavour especially with the long, cold autolyse. I'm reluctant  to give up on it and will try the  lower hydration suggested by Cridor and take it from there.  Will report back.

Thanks again for the advice




Juergen Krauss's picture
Juergen Krauss

might do the trick in terms of texture - it is fairly high protein (around 12%). (And it is not too expensive fot a test bake, at p.52 for 1500g)

The taste is not too bad.

Side note to Andy - I am not switching again ... very happy with Bacheldre now


BarbaraK's picture

Thanks for the tip Juergen. I don't know of it but will look out for it.

In the meantime I just came across Dan Lepard's blog where he outlines a a very useful and comprehensive  comparison of flours. He recommends if using T55 or T65 French flour instead of strong white to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 10% - 15%, reduce the rising temp. to about 21C - 24C and reduce the oven temp. towards the end of baking (Thanks Dan if you are on this forum) So I will follow Crider's (apologies if I'm misspelling your name) good advice given earlier and see how it works out.

BarbaraK's picture

Having used a 75% hydration (as earlier post), following Anis Bouabsa's recipe,  but substituting  French T65 flour for the Giusto,  and found the dough nearly impossible to handle - even though the ficelles tasted fabulous - I made a batch with the French T65 flour and using 65% hydration, as suggested.  I decided to make two baguettes instead of four ficelles , which was perhaps a mistake while at the same time changing the hydration, but the results were nothing like  the ficelles - for flavour, crust or texture although of course the dough was easier to handle.  Did I make a cardinal mistake by changing the size of the baguettes and can anyone suggest how I can improve on it next time?

 If people think it should work, I will have another go and take great care with the method.  Look forward to any help and thanks.