The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Good News/Bad News on Baguette

keukaharv's picture

Good News/Bad News on Baguette

Following up on recent post, I made another batch of poolish baguettes, as well as sourdough batards with a Jeffrey Hamelman stiff levain converted to a liquid levain. The internal structure of the baguettes was amazing, and they tasted great. I brought some to a French woman who loved them, but remarked that the bread was not as white as she expected. I explained why this was a good thing (autolyse, reduced mix/bleaching).

But here's the question. Although I have never been great at scoring, it seems like the scoring on my revised baguettes is worse than with the non-autolyse/more mixing approach. You can only see a hint of it. You will notice that the scoring on the batard is good (at least I think so), and I used the same motion. The baguette dough has higher hydration and is noticeably more pillow-like (reminding me of ciabatta). So do I need to compensate somehow, or do I just suck?





MichaelLily's picture

The scores achieved their purpose: your bread did not burst at some unwanted area.  The scores are meant to allow expansion during baking.  In some circles we grow rather fond of the big ears and nice bloom.  I use an 85% hydration white sourdough that almost never produces an ear.  So in short, lack of an ear is definitely not a flaw.

keukaharv's picture

Thanks you so much for the kinds words. I feel better.

barryvabeach's picture

I love the scores on the batard.  I am no expert, but on the Baguette, I don't know that there is much wrong with the scoring, but either the shaping or proofing wasn't optimal, because it does not seem like you got a lot of oven spring - especially on the top baguette. OTOH,  there is a lot of talk here about scoring, and ears, yet I have never heard anyone say  "  Well, that baguette was great, it didn't taste too good, but it was perfectly scored"   To me taste is the only concern - if it looks pretty, that is a plus, but shouldn't be the focus.

The Loaf Oaf's picture
The Loaf Oaf

Baguettes are extremely tricky to score but as Michael said your bread did not burst.  Rather than going across the Baguette you should be scoring more vertical, Ill post of picture that a just found of how it should look.  Also the scores should be overlapping by about 3 inches or so.  When you score Baguettes, try to emulate what happens with a paper cut and make sure you hold the blade at and angle (not straight up and down.)  It also helps to hold the baguette with the non scoring hand to ensure it doesn't move.  My scoring is still a work in progress but I took a shaping class about a month ago and this was the technique that was explained.



ElPanadero's picture

Autolysing is about developing dough structure by leaving the flour and water to chemically react and develop gluten before salt and/ or yeasts start to affect it. You've stated that the structure of the baguettes was great so therefore I conclude that the autolyse has nothing to do with your scoring.

If I understand your post, the baguettes were yeasted and the batard was sourdough. An obvious point of note is that the top baguette is thin whilst the lower baguette is plump and fat. In fact, to me the lower baguette is more of a batard than a baguette and the thing in the middle is more of a loaf, not a batard but that's just my personal take and my perception might be skewed because there is no reference in the picture to judge sizes. The difference in the 2 baguettes (which presumably were from the same batch of dough, proofed for the same period of time and baked together) suggests to me that there is a shaping issue. One baguette is rolled tight and didn't expand that much whilst the other was loose and resulted in a plumper baguette.

Scoring success for baguettes is greatly affected by the shaping. You need a good even tight outer skin which is achieved by any of a number of fairly standard baguette shaping methods. It takes practice to be able to shape baguettes well and consistently. When baguette hydration level is high scoring can be difficult, often with the lame or blade dragging rather than making a nice clean cut. This problem can be solved by putting the proofed baguettes into a fridge for 5-10 mins just before baking. The lower temperature firms up the outer layer of dough making scoring much easier especially when doing it at an angle to help promote ears.

Finally the other factor I would mention is oven temperature and steam. You want the oven hot and have plenty of steam so that there is the initial oven spring but then enough heat to crisp up the edge of the scores and make those much sought after ears. The central "batard" has lovely ears and I wonder whether you baked this first and then baked the baguettes or whether they were all baked at the same time. Could you provide more detail here?

Hope some of that helps


keukaharv's picture

I agree that shaping is a work in progress, and I will try the scoring that la baguette suggested. It is exactly what we learned in class on full size baguettes, and I was compensating for the fact that I am making half size baguettes in my home oven. But really, there is no reason I have to change anything.

dreadnatty08's picture

A tip that really helps with scoring baguettes (and what we do in the bakery) is to chill the baguettes down a bit and get a skin on the surface.  The dough won't tear as much and you'll get a cleaner cut, assuming your blade is sharp.  Also, proper steaming will help considerably.