The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


ckujawa's picture


So the baking continues. With three upcoming interviews I want to make sure I'm on my game, so I decided to do one of my favorite breads to make--with a twist. I LOVE making baguettes. Wait. Let's be honest...I LOVE EATING baguettes. Making them is Ok. Especially when they're higher hydration, which I find challenging still. But whatever...a challenge is a challenge and I'm not usually one to let that stop me. 

So I dug out one of my favorite recipes for country baguette--from Martin Philip's wonderful book"Bread Making--A Baker's Journey Home in 75 Recipes" and got at it. And ran immediately into challenge #1: I didn't read his advice on equipment BEFORE buying a I have what I was comfortable with--one of the older spring type scales that measures down to the ounce...and 100kg increments. But if your familiar with Martin's formulas, they're in ounces.'s just math, right? So I grabbed pen and paper and got to it:

Liquid levain:
3 ounces APF
4 ounces water
2 tablespoons (exactly...honest ;) ) sourdough culture (discard? same thing...)

The Rest of the Story:

9 ounces bread flour
2 ounces whole wheat flour (I used hard winter wheat (red) because it seems to work better here)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast (Martin's idea...not mine but it does seem to deepen the flavor)
the levain I put together last night

Bulk ferment: 2hrs, slap and fold every 20 minutes for the first hour and leave it alone for the second
pre-shape into tubes, rest 15 shape into baguettes
let rise 30 minutes then preheat the over to 500 degrees F (I add a pan with water for steam)

Bake 5 minutes, remove steam, drop temp to 425 and bake for 20 minutes or so more (internal temp of 190-200 degrees F)

Sounds easy enough, right? And it was...until I discovered that I didn't flour my couche *quite* enough. Ugh. So much for the first perfect loaf. And then I realized that I had neglected to MEASURE the baguette shapes against the baguette pan I have--and they were too long. I also made the mistake of trying to pick the first baguette up from the ends (hey...I was gentle!). I KNOW BETTER. It proceeded to droop in the center--making it even longer! GREAT! I threw that loaf at the pan in disgust (gently!) and ROLLED the next one out of the couche. Still too long, but much better. Rinse and repeat with contestant number 3, adjusting the last two onto the pan and resigning myself to making croutons. Finally, I grab my $8 lame and *try* to make good, solid cuts, but the tool fails me again (it's curved and I've never been able to get the foolish curve thing figured out). Croutons are looking really good...besides I love them on salad. didn't take long for the baguettes to spring in the oven and the result wasn't quite as terrible as I thought it would be. Would I serve them to company? Not without cutting them (into croutons) but hey, it's dang tasty!

Cut baguette with butter


FLOUR THE COUCHE! The result of not doing it are...ummm...messy.
If you have a pan that's 12 inches in length, 16 inch baguettes don't work so well regardless of how good of an idea it may seem (i.e. measure twice, cut once!)
find a new lame.
And on a positive note, the more challenging the dough is to work with, the better the resulting bread when you get it right.