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Practicing Baguettes - Need more Color

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linder's picture
linder

Practicing Baguettes - Need more Color

Today, I decided to try Txfarmer's straight dough baguette formula on this post http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31945/straight-method-baguette-good-starter-baguette-practice 

OK, I'm hooked.  I am now, along with many others, on a quest to make a good baguette.  I made a bunch at the SFBI class Artisan Bread I and it was so much easier to get a nice brown crust on those baguettes with the professional oven.  Now I'm with my home oven and the browning just isn't happening.

Here is a picture of my baguettes to date -

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Close up of the scoring (which could improve but getting better)-

 

I would like to get the bread to have a little more color.  Not sure what the issue might be.  I have a  gas oven. I used the towel steaming method that SylviaH explained in detail(thank you).  It helped open the scoring. Perhaps I didn't have the steaming loaf pans in the proper positions?  I also used quarry tiles on the top shelf over the baguettes in hopes of creating more of a brick oven effect.  Was that a mistake?  I would like more color on the baguettes.  Should I add some diastatic malt to the mix?  I was using KAF Bread flour not AP, would that do it?  Any and all ideas welcome

 

Comments

grind's picture
grind

Those look really nice.  Some diastatic malt would certainly add more color.  I usually start with .25% DM to flour weight.  DM can varies in strength so you might have to mess around a bit but that's a safe and effective percentage to start with.  You can always scale up or down.  .5% is also a safe and effective starting point.  One thing is bread made with DM can sometimes result is a softer crust so you may have to bake your bread a little longer to set that right.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Instead of adding malt, I would actually experiment with baking time/temp/steaming first, because there's no reason why a dough with just flour, water, and salt wouldn't produce dark enough color.Have you tried to bake it longer? Each oven is difference, in my current oven, 25 min of total baking time produce much darker color than my previous one. However higher temp? My oven temp isn't even, the further inside, the hotter, and the baguettes that're positioned inside always turn out darker. Another thing is to vary steaming amount/time. The closed up cuts might be a sign of over steaming.

 

linder's picture
linder

Txfarmer,

Thank you for the suggestions re: time/temp/steaming.  It is very possible that I had too much steam-using the wet towels in the loaf pans method.  Perhaps my oven didn't vent the steam enough.  I'm toying with the idea of using the convection bake for the last part of the bake as well as opening the oven door widely to allow steam to escape more readily.  Also, I'm going to take the upper level quarry tiles out this time to see if I get more direct heat on the tops of the loaves. The bottoms are nicely browned, it's just the tops, which suggests too much steam.  I think what I will do is bake as usual with steam for the first part of the bake then remove the steaming pans at the appropriate time - open the oven door wide to get steam out.  I will then close the oven door and switch to convection bake at 485F (my stove will set itself 25F lower to 460F with convection on).   The convection fan, I hope, will dry the crust out a bit and aid in browning.  Does this make sense?  I'm interested in your feedback.

txfarmer's picture
txfarmer

Be warned that I have never used a gas oven so I really have no first hand experience in that. However, bake with steam for the first 10min, then bake "dry" for the rest of time should indeed be the principle. I also think it'd be good idea to get rid of the upper tiles.

linder's picture
linder

Consider the upper tiles gone.  It was a valiant attempt to create a brick oven-like environment but I don't think they work in my case.  I tried it that way because at SFBI, they did a demo of a home oven baking bread  with firebricks above and underneath the bread- but it was an electric oven.  I'll be baking with steam for 10 mins.  Air the oven out briefly and then switching to convection bake. Thanks for the quick response on this,  now, I'm off to do another S&F for today's batch.

Thanks

Linda

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

beautiful results, even if a little pale, got me to make a big baguette for practice as I had so much extra white starter from Italian starter for panettone.    I'm using YW instead of commercial yeast and so far it looks OK.  txfarmers method of shaping really works well don't you think?   You inspired me to prove to the world, again, that slashing is not for kids:-)

Nice baking Linda.

linder's picture
linder

Thank you , Dabrownman.  I'm practicing and practicing.  I'm getting better with each attempt, so I'm motivated to keep going.  My husband takes the practice loaves to work where they are promptly devoured, so I know they taste good and, heck, I'm  the only one who is being a 'bread snob' and working toward perfection(LOL). 

Txfarmer's techniques are awesome.  This baguette recipe works really well for me.  Time to start another practice session -

Linda

linder's picture
linder

Well, I got better color this time.  I steamed the oven ahead of time, baked for 10 minutes, then removed steam pans, opened the oven door wide, then reset the oven to do 15 minutes of  convection bake at 460F.  I tried an epi as well. 

I am having lots of problems scoring the loaves.  My lame just seems to grab and drag the heck out of the dough.  Maybe it's my shaping?  Anyway, I will practice some more later in the week.  After three straight days of baguettes, I'm done for the week.

And have to say, I'm a bit disappointed in my lack of progress in scoring the loaves.  I might try a less hydrated dough in an effort to make some headway on this front.

Linda

lumos's picture
lumos

Your baguettes look good, Linda. Crust colour has definitely improved. :) 

I used to have a similar problem with scoring; a blade dragging the dough when scoring.  I tried several things in the attempt to solve the problem, like changing a blade frequently, lowering the hydration, drying the dough surface a bit by removing the cover in the last 15 min or so of proofing, etc. etc..... and in the end, what worked best for me was to knead (in my case, usually by S & F-ing) to strengthen the gluten a little more than I used to.  Especially with baguette I'd been too afraid to get too strong gluten structure because I'd thought it'd prevent the resultant baguettes from getting a lot of large, random holes, thinking I'd end up with baguette with fine crumbs.  But I was wrong. I just needed to build up the gluten strength a bit more and the scoring became much easier and I still got airy crumb by taking care when shaping and get the timing right in bulk fermentation and proofing. ...though I must say I still have a looooooooooooong way to go until I'd be perfectly happy with my baguette.  Oh, I must also add that leaving the cover in the last 15 min of proofing does help a bit, too.

As for steaming.... I also use gas oven, and have tried Sylvia's towel method....and I'm really sorry to say that it didn't work with me (and my oven).  It's a great method (Thank you, Sylvia!) when I bake a larger loaf for which I need long, sustained steaming for, like, 20 min.  But with baguette, you need a strong burst of steam in the short  10 min or so in the initial pieriod of baking (and it's crucial you remove the steam/moisture in the last 10 -15 min to colour and crisp-up the crust), and the steam the towel method created wasn't enough for my oven.  Now I use lava stones in a large roasting dish, pre-heated VERY hot, and pour some boiing water immediately after loading the dough in the oven.  I also found stronger burst of steam like that helped creating much better grigne (ear), too.   I've tried loads of other methods, but so far this is the methoed that's worked best for me...and my oven. ;)

Not sure any of the above can help you, but just a few options to share from another gas-oven home baker. ;)

 

linder's picture
linder

Lumos,

Thank you for the hints and tips, especially regarding a gas oven.  I see what you mean about the burst of steam.  Sylvia's method worked great on my SF sourdough boules and perhaps the large burst of steam would help me get more grigne on the baguettes.  After seeing the demo at SFBI using the cast iron skillet, grapeshot, perforated pie pan and ice, I must admit the amount of steam was impressive, if not down right scary watching it pour out of every crevice of the stove.  I've been loathe to try it in my home oven, but I may just need to bite the bullet and go for it. 

I will try leaving the baguettes uncovered for the last 15 minutes of proofing.  I will also be more vigilant with the stretch and folds to develop more strength in the dough. In addition I need to pay more attention to getting a good preshape. 

Perhaps then my scoring will be less of a hassle.  Lots of things to ponder for future bakes.  

Many thanks

Linda

lumos's picture
lumos

No problem, Linda. Hope it'd help a bit in your quest for a perfect baguette. :)

I used to cover the dough with a plastic sheet before, that I found it made the surface too moist/wet even after removing the cover in the last 15 min of proofing.  So now I only cover it with a remaining half of couche. (With the other half used to 'cradle' baguette doughs between the folds)

Lots of things to ponder for future bakes. 

Exactly. Inspite of its simpleness, baguette is actually one of the most difficult to perfect, so perhaps there's no ending in this journey. But that's probably why baguette making is so interesting.

And I really must emphasis the importance of strong-enough gluten structure. It really does make differenc in scoring. The difficulty is judging how much strength, especially in case of baguette dough. Too strong, you'll end up with uniform, fine crumb like a ordinary white bread, too weak, it makes shaping more tricky and scoring neatly too difficult.

SFBI using the cast iron skillet, grapeshot, perforated pie pan and ice,

I've tried that, too. And I prefer lava stone method. By far.  The thing is, what's shown by a professional baker with electric oven doesn't necessarily work for a domestic baker with gas oven.  In the end, you just need to try lots of things and find a way it works for you and your oven.

Good thing about gas oven is it's much less sensitive than the electric cousin.  It may be a bit leaky in the insulation department, but bit of steam filling the cavity doesn't damage the mechanism as much as it'd do to electric ones. (she hopes....;p)