The Fresh Loaf

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First Epi and baguette

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dolfs's picture
dolfs

First Epi and baguette

Today I decided it was time for a serious try at baguette and epi.

Baguette and EpiBaguette and Epi

I made a straightforward french dough (68% hydration) and did not knead, but used the stretch and fold approach, both to develop the dough, and part way through bulk fermentation. I made two demi-baguettes and one epi. Unlike all my previous baking, today I used the convection mode which gave a very even browning of the bread (also used baking stone and steam of course). The crust was crackling, which was also a first for me. Way cool to hear that. It all resulted in a very thin but crispy crust and a very tender inside with nice crumb and decent holes.

Baguette and Epi crumbBaguette and Epi crumb 

 




--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures 

Comments

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi Dolf,

They look amazing! The crumb looks very fine textured and I always found that the stretch and fold method produces a coarser texture, so I guess it means I wasn't doing enough of them...

Convection and steam together? Your oven obviously does a very good job!

Those epi's are so inviting - just break off and eat! Yum

L_M

dolfs's picture
dolfs

What I didn't say is that I didn't switch to convection until about 8 minutes after initial steaming. I'm pretty sure that doing convection right away would dry the crust to quickly. Doing it a little later, once the crust starts browning, gives a very even heat so everything browns everywhere. I first discovered this with a Challah where the "interface" between two strands would always be a lot lighter, until I used convection.

The true stretch and fold was only done twice, after initial dough development. What I really meant is that I brought the dough together using the method of picking up the dough, rotating 90 degrees, letting gravity stretch it, and then folding it over onto itself. 


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

browndog's picture
browndog

dolfs, every time I see a picture of epis I think they must be the most beautiful way to shape a loaf. Yours are perfect. Are they tricky?

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I had resisted trying them at first because I thought they might be a little tricky. It turned out not to be so. It was really only a 20 second operation; a little longer than slashing, but that's it. You do need good, sharp shears to make nice clean cuts though.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I'd like to know (since I've never worked with convection) if you need to swap the loaves top to bottom halfway through the bake like you do convention.  Your loaves are absolutely lovely, by the way.

SOL

dolfs's picture
dolfs

When I bake with convection I tend to have to swap back and front at some point. I "cracked" the glass in my oven door during a steaming exercise early in my baking career. It is not broken enough (or so it seems), to start a costly repair, but it may be why the front is a little colder. I do not use more than one baking surface, so top to bottom question does not exist for me.

As I mentioned, I only switch to convection after the initial 1/3 of baking time and I have found that the constant air circulation gives me very even browning all around, and thus no need for swapping at all. I really believe (although I have not tested this believe) that using convection from the start when you are steaming as well will negate your steaming efforts. Keep in mind that any home steaming methods tend to be less satisfactory than professional steam injected ovens! You don't need a "wind" to blow around to evaporate moisture from the crust, or at least not until the "crusting reactions" start to take place. After that, it may actually help.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Thanks for the info about convection.  I have an aunt who owns a convection who is also a bread baker; I might ask if we can bake together sometime so I can see how a convection compares to my convention.   As for steam, I have never found a method (probably the steam maker contraption would work, although I've not bought one) that works for me.  As soon as the steam goes in/is made, it comes right out of the vents.  An exercise in futility.  Oh, if only I could have my dream oven....

SOL

dolfs's picture
dolfs

My oven lets some of the steam out, so my "trick" is to make lots of it. My method uses a heavy cast iron skillet that I preheat along with the baking stone. I found a very useful skillet for this at Ikea. It's square and low. I throw in about 2 cups of (near) boiling water and close the door asap. While some of the steam escapes there appears to be enough hanging around for long enough because it definitely has been making a difference in my crusts.

O yes, and then there is the oven dream! In my craziness I've gone so far as to investigate (small) commercial deck ovens with steam injection. Besides it costing a lot of money, you would need the space for it (here in the San Francisco Bay area even the space in a garage costs thousands of dollars per square foot!), and dedicated electric circuits etc. So, I've sent the idea back to dreamland. 


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

Susan's picture
Susan

"Magic Bowl" is a joke, of course!  But, make yourself a ~3-cup-flour boule and turn a stainless steel bowl over on it when you put it in the oven.  You will see a major difference in your bread.  The "oven within an oven" keeps steam from within the loaf where it needs to be for say, the first 12-15 minutes.  Then carefully remove the bowl and put it somewhere heatproof.  Keep baking until the loaf is dark brown.  Here's an example that's baked under a Pyrex bowl (SS is easier to handle, tho, and undoubtedly safer).  Susan from San Diego Boule Baked Under BowlBoule Baked Under Bowl 

saraugie's picture
saraugie

Susan, I tried for the first time the no-steam method yesterday, coincidently on one of Dolf's formulas for his Spinach Cheese bread.  Assuming I followed his ingredients correctly this is what happened with the bake.


It came out of the proofing basket and did not flatten, hooray !  I put into pre-heated oven, on the hot stone, covered with large, heavy stainless steel bowl.  30 minutes later, took top off, loaf flattened out.  I think it should have risen, however, I've never made the the bread before.  


My questions are:  Should I pre-heat the SS bowl along with the oven as a rule?  Is my assumption that that the time the formula calls for, with the conventional baking method is the same, and I should keep the loaf covered for the first 1/3 - 2/3 of baking time, and then uncover for the remaining baking time ?


If you've answered these Q in other posts, I apologize for asking you to repeat yourself.

Susan's picture
Susan

I'll try the half conventional/half convection next time!  Thanks for the hint.  Susan from San Diego

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

I tried to give you 5 stars..but the stars keep jumping around..I can't click on it..weird. The Epis would be a beautiful addition to the Thanksgiving dinner table. Is there any reason I couldn't bake in my conventional oven as long as I rotate for even browning?

dolfs's picture
dolfs

In fact, mine is, and that is how I do/did most of my baking. It also has a convection setting (it is a plain GE model, and in fact I hate the stovetop part of it). The convection got switched on by accident once. That's how I discovered this "trick". Rotation may be required, it just depends on your particular oven.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

staff of life's picture
staff of life

I thought your breads were so lovely Dolfs, that I thought I should try it too.  I've made beautiful epis in the past, when I was a very inexperienced baker, but when I tried it again today, they were puffy and not well defined.  I need to get a pair of scissors with longer blades for starters, but I also was wondering if you let your dough get fully proofed?  In the past, I didn't really let my dough get a decent second proof, which is why my epis used to look better.  Any tips you have will be greatly appreciated.

 SOL

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I proofed until nearly doubled (a little hard to see with this baquette shape) and did a push test with my finger. Indentation came back very sloooooowly. I think the key is not necessarily the amount of proofing, but rather the quality of the  dough (gluten development). I noticed considerable oven spring in each "leaf", but it did not destroy the shape. 475F oven, with baking stone and steam. Steam, or lack thereof, may be the other factor.


--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures

staff of life's picture
staff of life

Hi Dolfs--

Thanks for answering so quickly!  I'm wondering also if hydration is a factor, as yours seem to have a higher hydration than mine (I just used PR's Pain de Campagne, not a very wet dough).  I agree that it's hard to determine when something in a couche is proofed--I'm assuming you used a couche.  I put a small amount of dough in a measuring cup, say 1/4 c, and when it nears the 1/2 c mark, I bake it.  It's hard for me to do the press test when something's in a couche, as it seems ready to go far before it actually is.  Do you have a method that works?

SOL

dolfs's picture
dolfs

Yes, I use a couche. I do not find the press test hard in a couche. I just lift of the top (I fold the rest of the couche back over the part I am using) and I push in the ends of the baguettes). What I find hard to do is to eyeball doubling. Your method of the separate cup will do that. Lately, though, I have taken more and more to the press/feel test to determine completeness of rise. In particular with sourdough that seems to be a better indicator for me. I have to add that I have been baking for about 6-7 months now and only in the last 2-3 months did a realize how inadequate my dough development had been in the past (although I seemed to get quite acceptable results). The first time I made an "epoxy" Reinhard dough it was so smooth and silky and well developed that I finally realized I was under kneading, and not doing a long enough autolyse!

For a drier dough, I would expect less oven spring and it may be a little more critical to proof it to the right point. I've seen this also with Challah where, if I baked too soon, definition between the breads was lost some.

--dolf


See my My Bread Adventures in pictures