The Fresh Loaf

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baguettes - dough consistency for shaping

Barbara G's picture
Barbara G

baguettes - dough consistency for shaping

I've been making baguettes using the Anis Bouabsa recipe (more or less) for over a year. My baguettes actually come out very good most of the time. Great flavor, crust, and crumb. Not quite the volume I think I should.

My problem is that when I'm shaping my baguettes my dough is, what I call, floppy. I can barely roll it. Fortunately, it extends very easily... really too easily... so I'm able to get nice long baguettes. But in the balance between extensibility and elasticity, I'm not getting much elasticity. 

Also, I've noticed something strange: the shape of the container I ferment the dough in (~24 hours) seems to affect how well it 'rolls out'. I ferment the dough for two loaves in a rectangular plastic container. When I take it out and cut it in two, the way the dough behaves seems to depend on whether I cut it on the long axis or short axis. I've never seen any mention of something like this.

I'd appreciate any ideas on either of these issues (which I think are related).

Thanks.

Barbara

David R's picture
David R

You asked for ideas - well, what I'm about to say is just an idea, nothing better.

I expect that whatever dough-working method you're using before you place it into the rectangular container (folding, kneading, etc) is creating a sort of "grain", a structure oriented in either an east-west or a north-south direction. You could easily prove me wrong - next time, work the dough exactly the same way as you always do, but when you're finished, put it into the container "sideways". (If it won't fit sideways, squeeze it from both ends like an accordion, without folding it over - because folding might change the results.)

My questions, if I'm right: Does all well-formed dough necessarily have a "grain" or orientation like this? Or can dough be worked in several directions so that it's equalized? And - even if that can be done, should it be done?

Barbara G's picture
Barbara G

David,

Thanks for your reply. Yeah, I was thinking it might be something like that, though I'm surprised I've never read any mention of this. However, I don't know how the dough would have 'grain' before going into the rectangular containers. I mix it for a total of 3 minutes in a mixer. Then I do a few slap 'n folds. Then I put the dough in the rectangular container and let it sit for 20 minutes, do a french fold, and repeat two more times. Both the slap and fold and french fold are done along both axes, so I don't see how they would create a 'grain'. Still, it seems like something like this.

Thanks, again.

Barbara

David R's picture
David R

Wild speculation:

It may have one "grain" in the outside layer, an opposing "grain" in the second layer, etc.