The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Loaf and Questions

CarolinaClimber's picture

First Loaf and Questions

Hello all,

     I decided act on my desire to start making bread and baked my first loaf this weekend! I took the recipe from the Poolish Baguette in "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", but I decided to shape the dough into a boule instead of tackling the baguette just yet. My wife and I absolutely loved the result, but, of course, I had some issues and questions. I made the poolish Saturday afternoon, and let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next day I did shorten the fermenting times to 3 hours (1.5 hour rise, stretch and fold, then another 1.5 hour rise instead of two 2 hour rises as indicated in the book) due to time constraints. My main issues, I think, were in the shaping phase. In addition to degassing the dough more than I would have liked (I think I lost at least 50% of the volume from where it was after the second rise), I could not create a seal on the bottom of the dough at all. No matter what I tried, I could not get the dough to meld together to hold the surface tension as I had hoped. I simply pulled the bottom together as best I could and lay it flat and hoped it would stay together (which it did for the most part). I scored the bread in a # shape, but I think I should have scored them a bit deeper as one side exploded outward during the oven spring. I also think I should have baked it a bit longer, but I am still waiting on my probe thermometer to come in to know what 190-205 degrees actually looks like. All and all though I was very proud of how my first attempt turned out and I can't wait to see my skills improve! Thank you all for any advice!

Right out of the oven. The exploded side is a bit hard to see

My first crumb shot!

Ford's picture

Great!  Looks good to me.  Keep baking.


cfraenkel's picture

That is all that really matters.  I have made some really ugly loaves that tasted great, and some beautiful ones that were just ok.  Scoring is really an artform, this is a really nice first effort.  The rabbit hole is deep - so many variables, just keep remembering that the point is to have warm fresh bread that you enjoy eating!

Colin2's picture

Exactly!  This is a great loaf.  Commercial bakers have to worry about the cosmetic appearance of loaves, and it's fun as a home baker to experiment with shaping and scoring.  But really, at the start I would focus on dough handling and development, which Reinhart is really good at teaching, and gradually get comfortable with a variety of his breads.  You'll pick up shaping along the way.  While we may obsess about "ears" and artistic scoring, the audience for our bread cares mainly about taste and texture.  Plus I kind of like loaves that burst in baking -- it adds drama.

BreadLee's picture

Ain't nuthin wrong with that.  Looks great from here.  

wally's picture

That’s a beautiful first loaf. Kudos to you! If you go to YouTube & search on King Arthur Flour bread shaping, you’ll find a number of excellent videos with Jeffrey Hamelman demonstrating techniques from boules to batards to baguettes. This will help you I guarantee.

CarolinaClimber's picture

Thank you for the kind words everyone! I look forward to future breads and discussions!