The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Pale Baguettes (Using Anis Bouabsa's Recipe)

DulceBHbc's picture

Pale Baguettes (Using Anis Bouabsa's Recipe)


I tried this old Anis Bouabsa recipe as written out by dmsnyder ( and came out with this:

As you can see, it looks nothing like the wonderful baguettes on dmsnyder's thread (and others, such as here or here or here [I'm especially impressed by the last one because it was his FIRST ATTEMPT!]). The color was very pale, despite spritzing the oven with water immediately after placing the baguette in there. The deformed shape is more a testament to needing to hone my baguette-shaping skills.

Might any of you have insight on why it's so pale and even ashy looking?

The flavor was great, and I was happy with the crumb. The crust shattered upon slicing. Overall, the aesthetics just leave more to be desired.

dabrownman's picture

hardest part!  Taste and the crumb are the hard part.  A few more tries and I'm sure you will have the outside nailed -even it some of the taste and crumb goes away:-)  Baguettes are the bakers nightmare! even if so simple/ 

Happy Baking

dmsnyder's picture

I am glad the baguettes were, at least, good to eat! <whew!>

Here is my list of things that can cause a pale crust:

1. Under-baking (probably not your issue).

2. Baking at too cool a temperature. (double check your oven thermostat accuracy)

3. Over-proofing (This is because all the sugar in the dough got fermented so not enough is left for the Maillard reaction. However, if you got good oven spring and a nice crumb, this is unlikely.)

4. Insufficient steaming during the first part of the bake. (To my eye, that's the most likely major problem, with #2., above, secondary. Repeatedly opening the oven door to spritz your bread is not the best way to steam the oven. And each time you open the oven, the temperature drops - maybe 20-40 dF.

I'd encourage you to keep trying this formula, but choose another method of steaming your oven.


alfanso's picture

Hello Dulce,

(my first post)

Although I've tried a few different methods for oven steaming, here is what I have settled on:

(for the Bouabsa baguettes - oven at 480F)

A 500F resistant pan filled with lava rocks on the lowest shelf of the oven.  I have a conventional electric oven.

Once the baguettes are placed into the oven, cover any oven door glass with a terry towel - to avoid an unhappy glass cracking event.  

Then carefully pour between 1-2 cups of near boiling water into the pan with the lava rocks, remove the towel and shut the oven door quickly.  Safety first - wear an oven mitt that comes at least as high as your wrist on the hand pouring the water.   

Do not open the oven door again for perhaps 12-13 minutes, at which point rotate and spread out your baguettes across the stone or tile surface and finish baking.

Crack open the oven door for the final 1-2 minutes before removing the baguettes.

Again, this is what I have settled on, and with this method my baguettes come out looking like this

 (I relish the darker side of crust).  I credit the steaming technique which I use for a lot of the look here.  Give it a try and see what you find.  It might work for you too.