The Fresh Loaf

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First attempt at making Baguette with Poolish didn't come out too well...

Half Baked's picture
Half Baked

First attempt at making Baguette with Poolish didn't come out too well...

Hi all, I found this site not long ago and it’s been nigh on invaluable after I recently got into baking. The tips and recipes have all really inspired me, and I have been happily experimenting away with different flours and types of bread for the last couple of months. I tried to test my abilities and learn some new skills over the weekend by using making a French Baguette using a poolish, and it failed and I’m really not too sure why, I was wondering if you ladies and gents had any suggestions as to where I went wrong?

 

The recipe I followed was one here; http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7613/great-baguette-quest-n°1.

 

I followed it to the letter; except someone commented on the recipe by saying it was a good idea to try an autolyse as well, so I mixed the poolish with the remaining ingredients (less the yeast) and let it all sit for an hour. However I had a feeling something was wrong as soon as I looked at it; because the autolyse had hardly risen (I’m not too sure by how much it is supposed to, though…) and when I added the rest of the yeast and water and began to knead, I felt the consistency was all wrong. I put it down to the fact that it was wet dough, and kneaded it for a good 10-15 mins, but it still did not windowpane that well, no matter how much I kneaded it. Then during the first proving it rose very slowly, and even after giving it an hour, it had only just doubled in size. Even when I shaped the baguettes, again I could just tell the texture of the dough was all wrong, and after proving them for another hour they had nowhere near doubled in size, and just looked kind of flat. I nonetheless persisted, and when I tried to score the dough (something I’ve never had any trouble with before) the blade did not cut very well at all. Instead, the only way I can describe it is that the dough kept catching on the blade and dragging along, making it just look wrinkled and misshapen.

 

I really wish I’d taken pictures of the dough before I tried baking them, as it’s a bit difficult to explain what it was like, but hopefully you guys might know what I mean, and have some idea where I went wrong?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

>>because the autolyse had hardly risen (I’m not too sure by how much it is supposed to, though…)

In fact, autolyse shouldn't rise at all, because autolyse means just combining flour + water and letting it sit together to rest, hydrate and have dough naturally start forming its structure. There is no yeast in an autolyse. See: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/lessons/tentips_8_autolyse

>>I put it down to the fact that it was wet dough

This is not a very wet dough at all. By my calculations it's about 64% hydration. Personally I consider wet dough at 70% or more hydration when using all-purpose white flours.  

>> kneaded it for a good 10-15 mins

I'm assuming by hand? Depending on your technique this may or may not be long enough. If your technique is good it may only take you 10 minutes, if not, it may take 20+ minutes. 

>>Then during the first proving it rose very slowly, and even after giving it an hour, it had only just doubled in size.

Total yeast % in the formula is somewhere around 0.6 - 0.7%, which should just about double in size in about 1 hr at 77F for a lean dough. If your air and/or dough temp is lower, it will take longer. 

>>when I tried to score the dough (something I’ve never had any trouble with before) the blade did not cut very well at all. Instead, the only way I can describe it is that the dough kept catching on the blade and dragging along

It does sound like the dough was the dough was too wet for slashing, and/or the skin that you formed on the baguette wasn't quite tight enough. Did you leave it uncovered for the final 1hr proof? (that will help dry the skin to make slashing easier).

 

Half Baked's picture
Half Baked

Hey, thanks for the in-depth reply. 

 

At least I'm on the right track for the autolyse then, at least!

I did knead it by hand as I haven't yet invested in a mixer, however without blowing my own horn, I think my kneading technique is alright, certainly never had any problems before. So I'm thinking I might've overworked it a little bit, as i wasn't used to the different feel of it compared with just your straightforward bread dough.

I do normally use olive oil as opposed to flour when kneading, as I heard you should only really use flour at the shaping stage; so if you're sayign the dough might've been too wet, I'm guessing that could be why, also...

Finally I normally cover the dough up again after it's been shaped; is it best to leave it uncovered as ageneral rule?

cranbo's picture
cranbo

Finally I normally cover the dough up again after it's been shaped; is it best to leave it uncovered as ageneral rule?

AFAIK there is no general rule for this; it depends on the recipe and the final product you are trying to achieve. For example, if your final rise after shaping takes many hours (and is not in a proofing basket or banneton), it could dry out your crust too much. On the other hand, if your dough already has low hydration (like a hamburger bun) then definitely covered or humid final rise is important to maintaining a thin delicate crust.

You have to play around to see what works best for your recipe & desired outcomes in your environment. 

I did knead it by hand as I haven't yet invested in a mixer, however without blowing my own horn, I think my kneading technique is alright, certainly never had any problems before. So I'm thinking I might've overworked it a little bit, as i wasn't used to the different feel of it compared with just your straightforward bread dough.

If you've been able to achieve windowpane from hand-kneading using the same flour on other loaves, then you're right, it might not be your kneading time and technique. On the other hand, it's tough to overwork a lean dough like this when kneading by hand. My suggestion: if it's too sticky after 10 minutes of kneading, add small amounts of flour incrementally, and keep kneading until you get the dough texture you want. 

LindyD's picture
LindyD

Hi Half Baked,

What type of flour did you use?  Just curious.

Half Baked's picture
Half Baked

Hi, I used Allinson's Strong White Bread Flour; http://www.allinsonflour.co.uk/products/strong-white-bread-flour.html

Tdfbyo's picture
Tdfbyo

Actually you should add your yeast, sour dough starter and/ or poolish to the water and flour before you have your autolyse  rest. After your autolyse rest, you should then add the salt. The reason you shouldn't add the salt until after the autolyse rest is because it retards gluten development and the reason for doing an autolyse is develope gluten as much as possible so your kneeling is much more effective. Adding any type of yeast doesn't retard gluten development, it increases it. However, there will be no rise during the autolyse, again, it's just to develop some gluten chains and make your kneeding much more effective. 

It also sounds like your bulk ferment wasn't long enough. Just let the dough rest for another couple hours, or more depending on if you think it has fermented enough, before dividing and shaping the dough.

 

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

cranbo was correct that yeast (fresh or dry) is not included in the autolyse.  It is added after the autolyse, as is the salt.

A levain may be included with the autolyse ingredients, particularly if it contributes a significant portion of the moisture in the formula.

Paul

Tdfbyo's picture
Tdfbyo

@ Paul, I nromally only bake with leavin so I'm not as familiar with using yeast but why should you wait until after the autolyse rest to add yeast?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

Raymond Calvel, author of Le Gout de Pain (The Taste of Bread), developed the autolyse process as a means of improving the flavor of baguettes. French bakers had adopted ever-more mechanized methods for preparing the dough which resulted in the baguette equivalent of Wonder Bread. By eliminating the intensive mixing process, which oxidized the carotenids in the flour, Professor Calvel was able to retain those compounds which provided both the flavor and color.

Both the yeast and the salt affect the dough if they are added during autolyse; hence Professor Calvel's directions to mix them in at the end of the autolyse. This permits full development of the gluten by hydration of the flour.

Paul

Tdfbyo's picture
Tdfbyo

What I don't understand is why it's ok to add leaven pre autolyse rest but no yeast, when theres yeast in a sour dough culture. I knows there's other bacteria, and the yeast are different species then bakers yeast, but how what exactly does bakers yeast do differently that interferes with gluten development during the autoalyse rest? Also, why is it ok to mix in a poolish pre autolyse rest since it is bakers yeast,  saccharomyces cerevisiae, except its younger cells attached to flour and water?

PMcCool's picture
PMcCool

If there is adequate water to hydrate the flour without the levain, the levain is typically added after the autolyse period.  If a significant portion of the dough's moisture is in the levain, perhaps as with a formula using a liquid levain, then mix the levain with the rest of the flour and water in the autolyse.  That will provide the water needed to moisten the flour and start gluten formation.  Remember that the primary reason for an autolyse is to allow gluten formation without extensive mixing or fermentation.  The addition of the levain is desirable only if its moisture is required; in which case, the effects of the yeast are tolerated, not desired.

Paul

Tdfbyo's picture
Tdfbyo

The reason I want to know how exactly the yeast retard gluten development is because Chad Robertson, of Tartine bakery, adds leaven and poolish before the autolyse rest. He recommends home bakers do the same, and his basic country loaf is 75% hydration. I use his methods a lot and get awsome results.