The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Newbie makes bread!

NanooseGuy's picture

Newbie makes bread!

This is my first post. I am a beginner baker so any advice will be much appreciated.

The other day I decided to try to bake Pain á l’Ancienne, using DM Snyder’s blog dated Sept 6, 2008 and some ideas from Reinhart’s BBA. This bake would be my first autolyse, my first stretch and fold, my first baguette shaping and my first use of steam.

Following David Snyder’s procedure, I autolysed the flour and water the day before and placed the mixture in the fridge overnight. The next morning I mixed in 30 grams of water, the salt and the yeast. I kept adding additional water (about 10 grams) until the dough was sticking to the bottom of the mixer bowl. I then transferred the dough to a large bowl and began a series of 3 stretch and folds in 20 minute intervals.

Overall, given this was a first try, the bread taste was fantastic! The crust was crunchy and the crumb quite chewy. Now my ‘problems’:

  1. I made 6 baguettes as per Reinhart’s BBA but they ended up being only 1½ to 2 inches in diameter. It wasn’t until after the bake that I realized my problem – I was following DM Snyder’s formula, which worked great but makes (if my calculations are correct) less than half the dough volume of the formula in the BBA. Next time, I will continue to use Synder’s formula but only bake 3 baguettes.
  2. 3 baguettes were baked on a pizza stone near the bottom of my oven with a steam tray (heavy duty cookie sheet) immediately below the stone (about 2 inches). These 3 baguettes came out somewhat blotchy in color from light/medium brown on top to little/no color below. When introducing steam I poured less than ¼ cup of water into the tray to create the burst of steam. I repeated this procedure twice in 30 second intervals. That’s all the steam that I generated. Reading over BBA, Reinhart mentions adding 1 full cup of water at the initial steaming and then spraying the walls of the oven. I will try this next time. Could this be why my baguettes were blotchy in color?
  3. My dough took less than 4 hours to double, measured from the time I added yeast and began kneading the dough in my mixer. The dough actually more than doubled in size by the time I began shaping the baguettes. Was my dough over-proofed? I let the baguettes rest for about 5 minutes and then put them in the oven. Should I have started shaping sooner? Should the shaped baguettes continue to rise?

I placed a second set of 3 baguettes (on a cookie sheet) on a middle oven rack.  These came out a bit darker in color with a couple of spots being ‘burnt’.

cranbo's picture

Pictures would help, but blotchy color can be due to lack of sufficient steam, incorrect proofing level, insufficient combination of temp + baking time, or some combo of all 3. 

For proofing, generally you want to avoid more than double during bulk fermentation, but if it goes beyond that, it doesn't mean that it necessarily will be over proofed. It depends more on your timing for the final proof; you may not get quite as much oven spring if your douhg has initially more than doubled. Certain high hydration breads (see Jason's Coccodrillo ciabatta) must triple during bulk fermentation to get the crumb/texture right.

dabrownman's picture

method is to use a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks.  I fill this half way up with water as the oven preheats.  I preheat to 500F and put the water in when the temperature hits 350 F.  Once the oven is at 500 F I set a timer for 15 minutes.  The stone temperature will lag the oven temperature by 15 minutes.

I also use 2 of Sylvia's steaming pans.  These are Pyrex loaf pans half full of water with a rolled up kitchen towel in each of them.  These can be heated in a microwave oven until they boil.  Between David's and Sylvia's steaming methods you will always have plenty of steam  and upoi can eliminate that as a problem .

Happy baking

NanooseGuy's picture

Thanks everyone for your comments.