The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baking Abel's Baguette au Levain

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Baking Abel's Baguette au Levain

Like Ulysses to the Sirens.  Like rodents to the Pied Piper, like Cupid’s arrow to the heart, and like Springboks to Spring Break - or at least to the watering hole on the Savannah. Abel Sierra posted his version of Baguette au Levain a few days ago.  Lovely, and that might have been that!  Except that in response to Old Baker’s comment stating that he would try it, Abel’s reply was "Maybe it's difficult to get this result at home. For better results, always work with professional tools.”

Well, if you know anything about me, then you know that I took it as a personal challenge, dropped my current project, and found myself on a mission.

Following Abel’s lead, this is a 75% double hydration (bassinage) dough using an assumed 100% hydration AP flour levain.  Formatting the formula in my BBGA worksheet the calculated pre-fermented flour came to 9.1%.  Without the prescribed fresh yeast I employed IDY instead, and found a cobwebbed container of Diastatic Malt.  Damn the torpedos if the Malt is expired, but in it went.

Upon shaping, the dough was quite slack but manageable, and again, another dough that is so soft to the touch that it just about rolls itself out.  One technique that Abel references is to retard the shaped baguettes seam side up, something that was a nascent experience for me having never done that before.

Scaled to 1500g I had enough dough to make 4 baguettes at ~370g, the dough before and after shaping was cumulatively ~15 hours under retard.  Baked at 470dF, 13 minutes under steam, 11 minutes after steam was released, and 3 minutes of venting.

The crust is incredibly crisp and the flavor is soft and sweet.  My crumb is not quite as open as Abel's, but nothing to be ashamed about, that's for sure.

If you are in the mood for an all white flour pain au levain, this is another in the growing list of baguettes worth trying.

And so my baguettes were baked, my itch was scratched, my curiosity was coddled.  And I am happily reporting that I found no greater challenge to baking these than with any other double hydration dough.  So you too can do it!

couched seam side up

 

Steam released, baguettes rotated

alan

 

Comments

Filomatic's picture
Filomatic

Yet again, unparalleled magnificence.  I'd love one of those right now with a soft cheese and a bottle of wine on a picnic in the French countryside.

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

but seriously alfanso, as always, just wonderful.  not sure if i will try this formula but the baguette itch is increasing... one day soon when I find the courage to do so..

still these are beautiful and I wish we could sample rather than look and drool!

great bake

Leslie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

while you were sauntering through the Swiss countryside.  So isn't it time to join the baguette brigade.  No saber light swords, membership goodies or decoder rings.  Just plenty of crunchy crust, great morning toast and another notch on your baking apron.

This is a bit tougher formula since the hydration, while not too high for a batard or a boule, is on the high side for a baguette.  If you're going to start somewhere, you might want to get your feet wet (don't put that water into the hydration please!) with a dough that comes in between about 65 and 68% hydration.  Much easier to handle, and less frustrating.

thanks, alan

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

I bought fondue mix back with me so will HAVE TO make baguettes to eat with that!  

cheers Alan!

Leslie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and I promise to supply the cheese, wine and bread!  Lately I've been particular to runny triple cream cheese over toasted rounds of baguettes.  

Thanks for your words of support Phil, alan 

not.a.crumb.left's picture
not.a.crumb.left

Alan and the bread....well the baguettes are amazing again and I love the crust and the crumb....lovely light and open...

I am ordering my couche soon...... :D Kat

alfanso's picture
alfanso

on baking and baking skills.  Just make sue that you spend that small upfront time "seasoning" the couche to ensure that the dough will release a bit easier.  Nothing like ruining a good up-to-now baking experience like having the dough stick viciously to the couche, tear apart and ruin the bake.

thanks, alan

WatertownNewbie's picture
WatertownNewbie

Alfanso, there is no baguette recipe that is a challenge for you. With your experience and ability to handle the dough in all respects (from mixing to shaping to scoring to baking) I am not surprised that your photos exhibit a product every bit as good as any found around the world.  Now, if the rest of us could only get close to something like this ...

alfanso's picture
alfanso

baguette is to find a bread that hasn't been done as a baguette and do that!  When I see a bread that I'd like to do, step one is to look online for someone who had done it as a baguette and hope that my search comes up empty.  After all, for most breads, it's just another shape.  Just takes some diligence and a bunch of practice.

thanks for the encouraging words, alan

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

but I just smile when I see your baguettes. So picture me sitting at the hair salon with foil strips on my head smiling like a fool at my phone. Keep it up! Those pictures make my day!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

last time I had foil strips on my head.  Except that I was getting an Abbott and Costello reception using the foil as rabbit ears!

Glad to provide a moment's pleasure for others.  alan

Abe's picture
Abe

"One technique that Abel references is to retard the shaped baguettes seam side up"

We flip dough that has been proofing in a banneton. We also flip ciabatta. In fact most dough is flipped on its head after proofing (except those with a quick proof or in a loaf pan) so why not baguettes?

Does this have to do with gravity and a better crumb structure?

Mighty fine baguettes Alan. They look delicious and I think the crumb is just perfect.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

although Abel states that he believes the dough being seam side up in retard creates a more open crumb.  I've seen about a 50/50 split on which side up the dough resides on a couche.  Just by chance I started with the seam down and continued that way since day 1.  When the dough is expected to open on the seam, as in FWSY, then the seam side is down so that when turned out of the benetton the seam is exposed.

I'd been working the Hamelman hydrations of mid 60's so long that moving back to 70 and up with Maurizio and now Abel, to name just two, takes some re-jiggering.  Minor, but just a different expectation.  I've never been too enamored with big open crumb, so even if this doesn't/can't match a magician like Abel, I'm just fine with it.  A really satisfying experience.  

I'm certainly not the type who jumps at the mere hint of "challenge", but as I've been able to pretty much bake anything at home that I see published for the commercial oven, I heard the sweet song of the Sirens on this one.  What can I say?  Maybe I'm related to a Springbok, although I can't jump the way that I used to when I was a mere young'un.

thanks, alan

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

I am far from considering myself a magician, hehehe. I am a very demanding person with my job and I think I still have a lot to improve in terms of baking.

I don't think I have a special talent. Making good bread has some difficulty, but at the end it's not as difficult as sending a rocket to the moon. All I did was working alongside top bakery chefs, and pay attention to the details.


The issue of leaving the seam up in both the preform and the form is based in two main objectives. Basically allow the future crumb to continue expanding, which does not happen so much if you leave the seam down. On the other hand, another advantage is that if you work in a kitchen with a lot of ventilation, you avoid the dough to dry. Or in any case if it dries, it will do the part that will go down.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

"I think I still have a lot to improve in terms of baking.  I don't think I have a special talent. Making good bread has some difficulty, but at the end it's not as difficult as sending a rocket to the moon. ...and pay attention to the details."

Really so true.  And that's what I try to emphasize to others who have such kind words for my breads.  I also have mentioned that not everyone wants to "master" baguettes, if at all, but that if one does, it takes time and dedication for all but the most talented few who get it from the start.

We are still all students at one level or another.  Even great musicians, singers and athletes have teachers and coaches.  There is always something new to learn, something to get better at.

Thanks to your postings, as with a few others, I have most of my inspiration from just being a participant on TFL.

alan

BTW, my brother will soon be on vacation in Spain and I'll again remind him to pack a few bags of tritordeum for me if he can.

Abelbreadgallery's picture
Abelbreadgallery

Pretty awesome! Congratulations.

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

seam side up so the couche would suck the water out of the part that would be scored to make it easier to slash.  Then the dough was turned over like a ciabatta so that the holes in the crumb would be better distributed..  But I haven't researched baggies because I don't make them very often since the shape doesn't fit wall that well with sandwiches - my 90% use for bread.  These look pretty exceptional though and I'm sure I could make some kind of sandwich out of them but probably would dunk it into some dipping sauce or put some cheese or meats on it with a glass of chianti:-)

Very nice all the way around Don Baggs!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

And it's easy to do the sandwich thing by cutting a chunk and then slicing the bread horizontally.  Makes for some fine sandwich bread of a different shape.

It's funny how I never thought about the seam side up or down for any reason before.  It was down and that's the way it was/is!  One aspect of the seam side up that doesn't appeal to me is that the dough has to be finagled in order to get it off the peel and onto the baking peel.  With seam side down it is a simple flip off the couche and then a roll off the hand peel onto the baking peel.

And in a pinch, the leftovers, of course, make for some fine dog treats when cut into small cubes.

thanks, D.B.

Elsie_iu's picture
Elsie_iu

I'm out of words... Though you get the message: I adore your baguettes :)

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and likely not as good tasting as many others either.  However, if we go back to the old chestnut that we eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouths, then these certainly fit the bill since they do look quite edible!!

thanks, alan

Ru007's picture
Ru007

Your baguettes always look awesome!

Happy baking 

Ru

alfanso's picture
alfanso

baguettes that I slip under the table to feed the dog.  Actually, consistency is big in my book, and so the vast majority of the time I am able to get good scores and blooms.

thanks, alan