The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Scores on baguettes "disappear"

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Scores on baguettes "disappear"

I admit I'm fairly new to bread-making, but I've having a problem with my baguettes, in that after scoring them, they go in the oven, and when they come out the score marks have pretty much gone.  They never lift upwards to form nice ears, they just get "filled in" by dough rising from inside the slash.  I've tried various angles and depths, and never gotten it to work.  Does anyone have some tips?  I've watched videos and read articles about the subject, but can never seem to get a good result.  I also have the problem to a lesser degree on other non-baguette shaped breads. 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, sirrith.

There are several factors that may interfere with cuts blooming. A photo of your baguettes may help pinpoint the factors in your case, but, in the meantime, here is a list off the top of my head:

1.  Inadequate bulk fermentation (either too long or not long enough).

2. Rough dough handling de-gassing the dough excessively.

3. Poor shaping - not making a good gluten sheath.

4. Over-proofing.

5. Oven not sufficiently pre-heated. Recommend using an oven stone.

6. Inadequate humidity in the oven during the first part of the bake.

7. Scoring problems (depth of cut, angle of cut, vector). Recommend the TFL Scoring Bread: An updated tutorial

Whenever you have a problem, it helps to share the bread's formula, your procedures and photos of the bread and the crumb. This will get you relevant advice a lot faster.

Happy baking!

David

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Thanks for the reply.  Unfortunately it could be any number of those :(

I'm quite sure it is not #2, as I am quite gentle with the proofed loaf.  It is definitely not #5 either, I preheat my oven for an hour and cook at the maximum temperature for all my bread, and use a baking steel. 

As for the others, I have no idea which it could be, if not a combination of all of them. 

Here are some photos of my baguettes (the crumb is slightly tighter than usual on these, but the scoring problems are pretty much the same on all of them). 

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Understeaming is definitely one of your problems.

Do you proof your baguettes seam up or seam down?

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Is it bad that they don't have a seam?  I form them by making a ball, then rolling them out into sausage shapes, the seam usually disappears by the time I'm done rolling. 

 

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

If you're still getting a smooth, taut piece of dough, then it's fine. That said, I would now add shaping technique as a possible factor. Probably a minor one, if at all, but a thing to consider.

At the heart of my question is this: when transferring dough from its final proofing surface to the oven, is the baguette being flipped so that the side that was on the board becomes the top, or are the sides that are the top and bottom in the couche staying the top and bottom in the oven?

My concern is that the surface of your dough is drying out a bit, which is normal, but if you're still using that dried out area as your top AND you aren't able to give it huge amounts of steam to quickly re-hydrate it in the oven, then it will be incapable of its maximum possible bloom/spring. The fact that there are larger air bubbles at the bottom of the loaf than the top seems consistent with this idea.

If this is the case, flipping your baguettes so the bottom becomes the top right before scoring and loading could help, since the bottom dries out less.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The photo of your baguette crust shows signs of under-steaming - specifically, the dull surface. It should be shiny.

Your crumb is very dense. I strongly suspect two factors: Under-fermentation and too much degassing. The crumb should show bubbles throughout with very thin walls. These form during bulk fermentation, primarily. The holes you see in the cut baked loaf should be of varying size, randomly distributed. The way you are shaping almost certainly is smashing the air out of any alveoli that have formed, and it appears there are few to start with.

Here is a "target" for you to aim at:

I strongly recommend using a more traditional method of shaping your baguettes. You can view these on youtube.com. Search for Cyril Hitz's videos. Or look at the KAF videos. Here is a link to the latter: 

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/videos/techniques-for-the-professional-baker-4-shaping

Baguette shaping starts at about 2:30 minutes into Video #4.

One thing you don't necessarily appreciate from the video is that there is almost no downward pressure on the baguette during shaping. the downward pressure is restricted to the seams when they are being sealed after each folding of the dough. Note that Hamelman's finger tips and the heels of his hands are resting on the bench when he is lengthening the baguette. This helps minimize pressure that forces the air out of the bubbles in the dough.

I hope this helps.

David

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Thanks for the link David, I hadn't watched that video before.  I do shape something similar to that, but I am probably putting too much pressure (otherwise the baguettes don't seem to stretch).  Underfermentation may also be a reason, I was rather pressed for time on this batch, and in general I think I am always worried about overproofing the dough. 

Am I correct in thinking that if I bulk ferment for long enough, then underproof a bit after shaping, I will get more open crumb than if I underferment and leave it to prove properly after shaping? 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

But, the tRuth is, you shouldn't plan on this. StRive foR perfection in eveRy step.

David

P.S. Please excuse the capital R's. Something is goofy with my keyboard this moRning. 

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

I think baguette dough is supposed to be fairly slack with a high hydration. the fact that you can 'roll' the dough, as well as its closed crumb, and your saying it doesn't stretch well, tells me that your dough must be quite low hydration. High hydration breads also naturally release more steam than lower hydration breads, the added steam just helps. So the dull finish on your baguette is also consistent with a medium to low hydration bread.

My theory, anyway.

Mind posting your recipe? Do you weigh out your ingredients or use cup measures? Are you adding a lot of flour during shaping?

sirrith's picture
sirrith

500g T65 flour

350g water

12g salt

2.6g IDY

 

For that attempt I made a poolish using 60g of the flour and 60g of the water, with 0.6g yeast.

sirrith's picture
sirrith

forgot to add, I try to avoid adding too much flour afterwards when handling the dough. 

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

65% hydration is ok to me, if on the drier side. My enriched loaves are at 65-70% and i'd go up to 80% for ciabatta and baguette. Still I'd say ignore my theory, go with what everyone else said - fermentation, shaping, handling. Love to know how you solve it eventually!

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Hi David,

I made a pain de campagne recently, and was wondering what you think of the crumb (unfortunately I ate most of it before remembering to take a photo). 

The recipe was 750g of flour (75g rye, 75g strong whole wheat, 600g T65 white), with 65% hydration. 

Does it look like I'm more on target this time? 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

From my iPhone in Levanto, Italy

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Thanks again then!  I tried to shape it exactly like in the series of videos you linked me to, it seems to have worked :)

sirrith's picture
sirrith

But I just baked another loaf today, which was the same batch as this last slice except that today's was frozen.  It didn't turn out well, and I was hoping you could give some insight as to why.  I know the yeast didn't die because there was definitely activity after defrosting. 

This is what it looks like, very weird.  I think it may have been underbaked to boot. 

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I am currently traveling and only have my phone for viewing photos. I cannot tell the nature of the problem. Please describe your procedure with the frozen dough and the problem you think you are having.

David

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

I don't think a bigger screen will help. The bread looks pretty good on my monitor. :)

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Ah, I'll try my best in that case (it isn't urgent in any event, please enjoy your travels rather than replying to me!).

Basically the bread is quite gummy (probably because it undercooked a bit), and it has areas of normal crumb, interlaced with areas of very dense crumb, almost as though parts of it proved properly and other parts didn't.  I've taken a couple of close-up photos. 

Maybe I'm just dreaming things and finding problems because of the texture and the fact that this is only the 2nd time I've ever baked bread from frozen dough, but I don't know enough to be certain so I'd like a second opinion (or third, fourth etc...) 

 

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

That is some excellent bread porn. Your crumb looks fine from here on the internet.

But if you are unhappy with it, then we'll what we can do. What recipe is this?

Are the gummy spots spread throughout the loaf or centralized? How long did you let the dough thaw? For that matter, how did you bake it?

I wonder if some of the dough might have just been colder from the freezer still and needed more thermal energy to finish baking.

sirrith's picture
sirrith

Thanks!

This is the same dough as the 75g rye, 75g WW, 600g white I posted above, this was half the dough from the last batch so it weighed around 625g, and it was flattened to 3/4" thick for freezing.  

There are some particularly gummy spots dotted around, but it is mostly the centre that is gummy.  I thawed it for about 30 minutes on the countertop at first, then I changed my mind and decided to put it in the fridge for a slower defrost, then changed my mind again after about 2 hours, and took it back out for about an hour or 2, then it was completely defrosted so I knocked the air out, then shaped it, and let it prove for about another 1h20. 

I did bake it slightly less than usual, because I'm still trying to work out the balance between colour and done-ness in my oven.  This time I did 10 minutes in a dutch oven at 240C, followed by 20 minutes at 230C with the lid off, half without convection half with convection.  Last time I did the whole way through at 240C and I think I baked it for 15 minutes covered and 25 minutes uncovered, it was almost burnt (very dark crust, but no bitterness). 

I think you may be right about the dough still being colder, in combination with me reducing the time to get the desired colour in the crust. 

But the thing that has me confused is that the spaces in between the air pockets, compared to even my underproved and smashed baguette above, seem to be denser on this loaf. 

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Do you own a probe thermometer? I often check the internal temperature of my bread to help determine doneness. For lean doughs, look for it to be 93C - 100C.

The extra density between air holes is odd; that said, I didn't really notice them when looking at the pictures. I'm not sure what to tell you about that bit.

sirrith's picture
sirrith

I do, yes, thanks :)

sirrith's picture
sirrith

So I just got back from vacation, and started baking again.  This time I brought back a handheld steamer and a steam tray (same setup as the steambreadmaker.com contraption).  The results seem to be much better, but I do still have some questions:

The bread has plenty of air holes, and much larger ones than I normally get.  I also got far better oven spring, and my scores were nicer than before.  However, upon closer inspection, I am not getting crumb that looks anything like what David posted i.e. loose and airy.  Rather, I am getting large air pockets, with very dense crumb between (not the undercooked gummy stuff my last loaf had, this time it was properly cooked), and the whole loaf is just a bit tough and dense despite all the holes.  Also, when cut lengthwise, the air pockets look more like those you'd expect in a crumpet than in a baguette.   

Is this a symptom of underproofing?  Or is it something else? 

What I did this time was 65% hydration, 2% salt, 3/4 tsp yeast, mix for 4-5mn lowest speed in mixer, bulk for 3h w/ 3 S&F at intervals, divide and pre-shape, rest for 30 mins, shape, final rise for 15 mins, into oven at 250C, 7mn with steam every minute, then 16 minutes without steam.

I added a bit of butter to the bread before I remembered to take a photo, sorry :p  

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sirrith's picture
sirrith

sandytroy's picture
sandytroy

For the best slash and rise so far in my experience with no knead: I use 30 to 50 min autolyse dough, 78% hydration recipe. I slash the dough 5-10 min PRIOR to popping dough into 450 degree preheated oven. I use parchment. I preheat for 60 min. a Lodge cast iron dutch oven for an artisan loaf. I bake in the middle of the oven. For baguettes I use USA baguette pan (which I love). To create steam when using baguette pan or Lodge cast iron pizza pan for loaves/rolls or fougasse, I spray water on the sides of the oven and throw ice cubes on a tray on the bottom rack.  I find that slashes made 5 min or so prior to placing dough in the oven do seem to help improve expansion and rising... and the slashes are more visible (IMHO). All the best this new year to all. May your bread rise and your gardens thrive!