The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French Baguette

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

French Baguette

This is a plea for help from anyone out there making French Baguettes regularly. I have been baking them for a while now and have managed to get the right balance between crispy crunchy crust and soft inside. I always use T65 flour. I just can't seem to get them to shine the way they should do. Have you any techniques or suggestions that will help?

French Baguettes

 
 

Poolish

  • 165g T65 White Flour
  • 165g tepid water
  • 4g dried yeast

Bread dough

  • 335g T65 White Flour
  • 165g tepid water
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 7g salt

Method – makes 3x Baguettes (7PP/100g baked)

  1. Mix the Poolish ingredients the night before, cover & ferment at room temperature, overnight.
  2. Weigh bread dough ingredients directly into mixer bowl onto the Poolish. Mix for 3mins speed 3-4 until you have smooth & elastic dough.
  3. Cover with cling film and leave for 40 mins.
  4. Scrape out onto floured bench and fold dough with 2 book folds, re-cover & re-prove for 40mins more.
  5. Shape 3 batards (280g each), then place baguettes on well-floured couches. Cover with greased cling film & leave in warm place for 15mins.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C, make several slashes at 45° to perpendicular diagonally along the length each baguette loaf with a sharp knife. Spray with water.
  7. Bake & spray every 10 mins for 25-30 mins at 200°C turning down to 180°C for the last period. Open the oven door for the last 2-3 mins to make crust crispier. Tap the bottoms sound hollow and if not, return to oven upside down for 5 minutes.
  8. Tip out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool.
jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Looking good Bill ! If I may offer a couple of suggestions.

My straight dough (yeast only) baguettes (and I make a lot of them) use 0.4% dry active yeast. I don't know your experience but that amount is expressed as a percentage of the total flour, or what is called "Baker's Math". This particular formula comes from Jeffrey Hamelman and I have made it many, many times. You are using 2.2% yeast which would be nearly 6 times the amount of yeast I would use. This is going to cause some problems.

First, looking at my formula and scaling it to be similar to your formula, my poolish would contain 0.2 g. of yeast, not 4.0 g. My final mix would contain an additional 2.9 g. of yeast, not 11 g. All that extra yeast, even it were sluggish, would be accelerating your fermentation beyond any reasonable degree of control. With that acceleration, and looking at your time table, the dough would certainly be overproofed and that shows in your pictures. No offense intended as I still overproof at times too.

While your scores are opening they are not peeling back, creating the grigne (ears) that are characteristic of the baguette. That generally points to a few things, one being overproofing. Another reason is a lack of steam, although an active oven spring with a lack of steam usually creates a blowout somewhere else in the loaf, and I do not see any blowouts in your picture. 

The next concern is your baking temperature. The hotter the baking surface the faster the expansion in the dough (oven spring). This fast expansion pushes dough vertically and in combination with the expansion points you made with your scores, creates the classic opening and grigne. My baking surface is 260C for baguettes and I am baking on a 3.8 cm. thick stone.

Lastly I might recommend a different scoring technique. While I too started by creating my scores in the direction of the end result, I was taught by professionals to score parallel with the length of the baguette. When scoring create about a 20 - 30% overlap of the last score, about 10 mm. away. Do this 4 or 5 times until your scores go from end to end. This method will provide the best opportunity for grigne. The best baguettes, after baking, have uniform scoring with a small band of unscored dough between the openings, and an impressive grigne.

I hope this helps you to perfect your baguettes.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I have this same pic downloaded in a special inspirational folder along with numerous other members' uploads (yeah y'all know who you are). Once I tried a big batch of about 11 or 12 - was tons of fun. Reminded me when I was a wee teenager and flung pizzas as a pt job. Nowadays I wish I could get my hands on the huge hobart mixer. Just out of interest how many loaves are you making on average ?

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Ah shucks, you're embarrassing me :-)  Baguette envy. The examples you have posted are very impressive and I often strive to duplicate some of your examples.

I bake 3 days a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Most of my accounts are local residential consumers and I have some commercial accounts that bounce in and out. During the winter I might be baking a couple of dozen a day, along with a handful of other bread types. In the summer I have a seasonal account that wants 70 baguettes every Sunday, punctuated by special orders throughout the week.If I made some plain-old yeasted white bread they'd probably take a few dozen of them each week as well. I might add that to the mix next summer.

It can be humbling trying to single-handedly crank out 70 baguettes between 3 AM and 10 AM every Sunday. Baking is the easiest part. Keeping the rest of the process on schedule is a real challenge.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Ya know it'd be really cool to see a video of your operation.  As an example theres a guy and gal in Dartmouth, south england who post videos (how to stuff) and have a formidable audience.  The guy, Julien picamil is one of those really messy and partially insane bakers who you love to watch whether it be educational or just entertainment.  In your case I think it'd fascinating to see especially considering the transformation from home baker to commercial.  You ought to create a channel on youbtube (ps congrats in the new oven!!!) 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

review and attend to David Snyder's scoring tutorial,  His updated version is http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/31887/scoring-bread-updated-tutorial.

It is a skill that will take a lot of practice for all but the naturals out there.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Just from experience I have noticed the angle of the cut - ie the entry angle of the blade doesnt seem to matter so much when it comes to burst. That is to say that other factors like proofing, tension etc are the key factors that contribute to the burst more than the attack angle of the blade. I find that no matter how you adjust that angle, if the loaf doesnt have the oomph, the angle wont matter, it just wont burst. To me the angle has more to do with the character of the gringe. Just an observation, waddya think ?

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

Thank you Jimbtv, There is much here for me to think about.

To clarify I was asking how to make them shiny. Are you saying that over fermentation (too much yeast) and possibly (but no blow outs occurred) over proofing may be the reasons why they aren't shiny? Also I can't produce more than 220 degrees centigrade from my oven. For steam I either spray & bake, spraying every 10 mins so 3 times in total or today I put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven and allow it to steam away. Not sure which is best but if I spray then any egg wash I have applied comes off so no shine occurs anyway.

Lastly the scoring. I try to cut at 45 degrees to the vertical plain of the baguette diagonally along the length fitting in about 5 cuts if possible. I'm not sure what you mean by 'score parallel with the length of the baguette. When scoring create about a 20 - 30% overlap of the last score about 10mm away'

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

OK Alfanso thanks for the link. I have reviewed the seminar and film footage and now understand about the direction of the cuts to my baguettes but still not sure what Jimbtv means by 'When scoring create about a 20 - 30% overlap of the last score about 10mm away' Is he talking about the overlap from the vertical birds eye point of view? 20-30% overlap between the end of one cut and the start of the next? So what is the 10mm away?

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

OK Alfanso thanks for the link. I have reviewed the seminar and film footage and now understand about the direction of the cuts to my baguettes but still not sure what Jimbtv means by 'When scoring create about a 20 - 30% overlap of the last score about 10mm away' Is he talking about the overlap from the vertical birds eye point of view? 20-30% overlap between the end of one cut and the start of the next? So what is the 10mm away?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

And will take a snap of what they mean. Need about 45 minites before they go in so hopefully a photo should clarify that ...

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Just baked ! Rather than cutting at 45 degrees across the top of the loaf the scores are more inline with the long axis of the loaf - despite it looking odd on the unbaked loafs the final product actually opens up to appear as though the cuts were made at 45 degrees (as shown above) 

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

Thanks kendalm. That looks really good. I get it now, longer almost parallel cuts.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Thi,king abput what you were wanting to achieve - maybe you are shooting for a pain viennoise - shiny with crosswise scores ?

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Bingo! A picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks KD.

jimbtv's picture
jimbtv

Shiny baguettes are a foreign concept to me. I make other breads with shiny surfaces, like challah and braided fruit breads, but I have never come across a baguette with and egg wash. Looking at your picture I'd say that they are somewhat shiny now - more so than others I have seen.

Typically the couche is lightly floured and then the shaped baguettes are placed inside, seam side up. When it is time to get them into the oven they are flipped over (seam side down now) and the flour adheres to the top surface. When scored then baked you get a nice contrast between the remaining floured surface and the freshly exposed internal dough that has expanded through the score points.

When I make baguettes I am not shooting for a shiny surface. Egg wash and steam are not a concept I would undertake so I cannot offer you any suggestions on how to accomplish both. I apologize if I confused you.

Scoring - let's make believe you were only going to make one score from end to end. You would start at one end and run your blade the length of the baguette. Using that imagery, consider doing the same thing but breaking the single score into 4 or 5 sections. In order to do this with some degree of overlap you would have to score at a slight angle. My angles are closer to 10 degrees than 45 degrees. This is the point I was trying to make.

 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Both two amazing bakers. Jim summarized everything and pointed out yeast quanties which you you can fo a tad lower (just to emphasize how little is needed). Also glad to hear someone else foes to 500f (260c) for temp (i actually push to 515f to account for hwat loss opening doors and such). So in general Jim summed it all up in one post as for scores jist check out alans work - far out stuff. Never heard of a shiny baguette in fact theres an old thread here where two members did a flour swap one being a french woman who upon baking for the first time using king arthir flour remarked how odd it was that her bread looked like plastic as it came out shiny - that being the unwanted result so, if you really want shiny at least we knlw that KA flour may help - warning ahe also mentioned the bread was flavorless. Seeing that you have T65, you probably have a challenge getting a sheen (most bakers in usa cant even get T65 - I go to extensive effort to obtain it, its like baking gold here)

bottleny's picture
bottleny

mukgling just posted a video how to make No Knead Baguette at Home, using Lodge combo cooker. Due to the size of combo cooker, it's mini baguette :) , not the full size. However, her method might be easy to achieve crunch crust and open crumb at home.

Bakery Bill's picture
Bakery Bill

Interesting video. Thanks.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The crust shine you want on your baguettes is from starch gelatinization in the presence of sufficient humidity. Your photo shows a dull crust that, AFAIK, is always caused by inadequate steaming during the first part of the bake. So, you need to find another way of steaming your oven.

Do you have an electric or a gas oven? Gas ovens vent so well that humidifying them is a real challenge. Baking the loaves covered is the best solution. Alfanso has another method, and I'd ask him to describe it. I have an electric oven and use a cast iron skillet filled with lava rocks. I preheat that and then place a perforated pie tin filled with ice cubes on top of the lava rocks just before loading the loaves.

Happy baking!

David

alfanso's picture
alfanso

The first question is a reiteration of David's.  Do you have an electric or gas oven?  if it is gas I'm going to direct you to kendalm who has figured out how bake world class baguettes in his gas oven.

For electric, my methodology is not unique and followed (more likely I followed) a denizen of others in this tact.  15 minutes before I bake, I place one Sylvia's Steaming Towel in the oven.  Post loading of the dough, I cover the glass door on the open oven with a terry towel to prevent any splashing lest the glass door cracks or shatters.  I then pour near boiling water into a 9x13 pan filled with lava rocks which has been reading in the oven since the the heat was turned on.  Both of these live on a rack just above the lower heating element and just below the baking deck.  Shut the oven door and don't open it to peek at my masterpiece until I wish to release steam.  There is ample evidence on TFL about both techniques and I prefer to use both to generate what dabrownman refers to as mega-steam.

I think I got the idea for this from David, who probably lifted the idea from someone who picked the idea from someone else and so on.

You can find scads of references to these techniques by placing the names into the search box at the upper right.  Or go to Google and type     lava rocks site:thefreshloaf.com      for a faster response.