The Fresh Loaf

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Scores on baguettes "disappear"

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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. 

Heath's picture
Heath

Or have you tried baking your bread in an enclosed space, like a Dutch Oven?  The best looking loaves with scores as you describe seem to be achieved by using lots of steam or cooking them in something like a Dutch Oven, inside which the bread provides its own steam as it's baking.

I have the same problem as you with the scores on my bread.  My oven is a fan oven, so all the steam I manage to generate goes straight out the vents.  I also cook several loaves at one time so haven't the space for Dutch Ovens or similar.

I think under or over proofing your dough can also affect how the scores open as there won't be much oven spring if not proofed correctly.  I must admit that this isn't my problem though, as I've tried proofing in every way imaginable.

Here's a good video that shows exactly what and what not to do in scoring baguettes.  It's helped me to improve my loaves, even though they're still far from perfect looking.

While I look for a solution, I keep reminding myself that my family loves the taste of my bread, even if it doesn't look the prettiest, and that it's a lot healthier than store-bought bread.  That's all that really matters :-)

Edit: I've realised your post is talking exclusively about baguettes while mine talks about loaves of bread.  Baguettes aren't baked in enclosed spaces as far as I know (never having baked them) but I believe they are baked with steam.  I hope some of my post is useful to you anyway :-)

sirrith's picture
sirrith

For my non-baguette loaves, I do use a dutch oven to trap steam, but even they don't "bloom" as nicely as I'd like. 

For the baguettes, I mist some water on them before putting in the oven, but I'm working on making a steam tray.   I also use a fan oven, so I turn off the convection during the first part of the bake to help retain the moisture (not sure if it helps, but it does slow down the drying of the dough)

I've watched that video several times already! I can just never get the results he does. 

And yes, my bread tastes good to me, so I'm happy with that, I just know it is possible to achieve far better looking results, and I want to learn how :)

 

Heath's picture
Heath

I'm jealous that you can turn the fan off - my oven doesn't have that feature unfortunately and I'm pretty sure lack of steam is at the root of my problem.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

I wonder if overheating your oven a bit and turning it off for a minute would help. The idea is that you get things hotter than they need to be so that you can try injecting a bunch of steam and then turn the oven (and thus steam-sucking fan) off without the temperature dropping too much for a minute or two. Having some extra stones/tiles/cast iron in there to help absorb and then maintain the temperature during this period would probably help.

Disclaimer: I haven't tried this, but it's an idea I've been mulling over a little bit.

Heath's picture
Heath

That's a good idea!  I'm going to try that.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Let me know how it goes. Thanks for playing guinea pig!

Heath's picture
Heath

I'll try to remember to do it when I bake next weekend :-)

Heath's picture
Heath

Just to let you know I tried switching off my convection oven to aid with steaming my loaves (so the fan doesn't blow the steam out of the vents).  I added a tray containing water and rolled-up, soaked tea towels before I pre-heated the oven (for steam) and then switched the oven off for 3 minutes when I put the loaves in.  I then baked as per usual.

I did get more oven spring!  Unfortunately, the loaves exploded out of the side instead of opening up at the scores, but at least I now know that I need to work some more on my shaping technique lol.

I'll carry on using this method of steaming from now on, so thanks very much for the idea :-)

OP - I don't think you mentioned autolysing in your posts.  I get better oven spring, and hence more open scores, when I autolyse first.  I just don't remember to do it that often.

So my techniques for enhancing oven spring/opening scores will be: to improve my shaping technique; autolyse for at least an hour (preferably more); switch off the oven for a few minutes when I first put my loaves in to stop the steam escaping.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Heath - so glad that technique seemed to work for you! Thanks for sticking my name in the subject line so I didn't miss your response.

sirrith's picture
sirrith

I'm glad to hear one of us is making progress!

 

just a question about your autolyse, do you do it with your poolish/biga/sponge added, or do you throw that in after the autolyse?

 

Heath's picture
Heath

I'm glad to hear one of us is making progress!

Thanks...I'll keep on trying anyway :-)

just a question about your autolyse, do you do it with your poolish/biga/sponge added, or do you throw that in after the autolyse?

I just autolyse the flour and water, and add everything else later.

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 :)