The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My first baguettes

Benito's picture
Benito

My first baguettes

So after much prodding from certain people, you know who you are, I finally tried making baguettes.  I decided to try to keep it as simple as possible and just try an IDY recipe.  I had a look at Peter Reinhart’s recipe and decided to have a go at that.  It didn’t require a poolish nor levain, just IDY.

I did run into several problems.  I decided to make his whole recipe which turns out makes four baguettes, well it turns out my cookie tray I was doing cold retard on is a rather tight fit for four baguettes.  My couche which I have only used to make pie pastry with and was well floured, decided that it loved the baguette dough and when it was time to turn them out and transfer them didn’t want to let go.  This was a bad problem because I ended up having to use my hands to separate the couche and the dough which quickly deflated the dough : (   I should have cut my loses there and only baked two at a time, but instead I went ahead and tried to bake all four at once on my baking steel, again it is too small for four baguettes so of course crowding on a baking steel causes uneven baking.  So the sides of two of the baguettes were touching and they were all too close so the sides of the baguettes didn’t brown nicely.  Well, what else went astray.  Scoring next, my first attempt at scoring went OK.  I think I did the overlap not too bad, but I should have scored more longitudinally and less across.  The poor dough was already deflating from my transferring them to parchment and then the scoring deflated them further.  Perhaps they had overproofed in the fridge overnight as well because they had very little oven spring.

They certainly won’t win any prizes for looks, fortunately they actually taste pretty good.  Nice soft crumb, crisp and thin crust.  We gobbled one up with dinner just now.  Not sure how to store the other three.

Lesson learned, next time just make three baguettes and don’t be too lazy to do the math to reduce the dough by 25% for this recipe anyhow.

Comments

Benito's picture
Benito

Forgot to include this photo of the shaped dough in the couche.

algebread's picture
algebread

Not worse than my first attempt :)

I've also been working on these the last few weeks, and can sympathize with some of the mishaps you describe (sitcking, poor bake-related choices). Luckily, as you say, bread usually is pretty tasty regardless of its shape.

I'll look forward to more baguettes both in my kitchen and in yours, so we can all learn together. Onward!

Benito's picture
Benito

Nice to commiserate with someone else also new(ish) to baguettes. Hopefully we can learn from each other and the more experienced baguette bakers here.  I now understand why it takes so many attempts to build some competency with baking baguettes.  Some of the simple things involved you don’t really know until you actually do it.  Getting the baguette from the couche to the transfer board to the parchment lined peel was far more difficult than I expected.  But now that I’ve done it, actually I didn’t actually do it at all right, I have a better idea of things to avoid.

Sliced them open to freeze.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Nice tapered ends and overall shape. Your shaping on other breads has always been good so you have that in your favor. Scoring looks good enough but the bloom was missing in action. Steaming or over proofed? That they stuck to the well floured couche suggest that they over proofed a little.  I have never tried to retard the shaped loaves. I can highly recommend the The Bouabsa recipe here  It makes three nice size baguettes. It is simple to mix then retard in bulk and shape and proof a dough that is still cool. You will learn a lot more little tricks to make it easier the next time. One thing to pay attention to is the proper amount of flour on the bench.

White flour in a lean dough has a taste appeal that is hard to ruin. You can make rolls or pizza or pan loaves with the same dough. My preferred method for freezing is to wrap them in plastic whole and put them in bag. I reuse the bags that ice comes in. Thaw and reheat at 325 for 8 minutes and it is nice and crispy again.

Benito's picture
Benito

Your Bouabsa baguettes look amazing.  I may try your take on the recipe, I’ve never made a IDY where the yeast is added after an autolyse stage, that is interesting to me.  But I see that your version you add the IDY at the beginning and not after autolyse. I think my scoring could still have been more longitudinal but not bad for a first try.  The total lack of spring I think was over proofing.  It has been a long long time since I made anything with IDY and my apartment was warm the day I decided last minute to throw these together.  I had left the apartment to get some exercise doing the stairs and when I came back they had more than doubled in size.  The shaping went better than expected, I think. But then they crowded on the cookie tray in the couche and trying to get them out, they really stuck.  I will use rice flour next time I think on the couche.  So prying them out of the couche they deflated and then deflated even more when scoring them, I think they were over proofed.  My fridge is 3ºC so I didn’t expect them to proof so much in there, but they grew quite a bit in the fridge as well.  Over proofed I think is right.  Thanks for the advice and suggestion on a recipe MTloaf.  Also thanks for the recommendation on how to freeze them.  The two of us cannot eat 3 or 4 baguettes before they become stale so a good freezing plan is needed.

Benny

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

My guess is the small amount of yeast and relatively short period (20 minutes) for the autolyse without salt is why it works. I usually hold back less than 20 grams of water to add with the salt. I would also advise not to over mix the dough or develop the gluten too much with slap and folds if you want an open crumb. The two hours before retarding in bulk is critical.  You want the dough to show some sign of activity before retarding but it shouldn't rise too much in the fridge. I have been having good results from coil folding. Divide it immediately after the 21 hours and do a loose letter fold with very little degassing from this point forward. I use the Hammelman method of shaping with the thumb stitching. Flour and semolina on the parchment helps to reposition or straighten the batons. Good luck!

I have never tried rice flour on my couche and I don't think it will be necessary with this recipe. Besides it would be a code violation with the French baguette police. 

Benito's picture
Benito

Yes using the mixer for this first attempt (along with various issues transferring the dough) probably contributed to crumb tightness more similar to sandwich bread than a good baguette.

I didn't realize that rice flour was a no no with baguettes.  Perhaps if I only made three of them so while they were proofing they weren't so squashed together they wouldn't stick.  Also because it was a very long cold proof they had more time to get stuck.  Doing a shorter shaped proof in the couche they should stick less.  Thanks for the ideas.

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

.. you should be happy! It sounds like quite the adventure. They look good! I tried a IDY baguette once a long time ago and being my first (and only) attempt it was stressful. But like you, it tasted good. I think like everything dough related - the more you do it the less daunting it seems. Keep at it.. well done!

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Hey Frank, thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it.  As you said, they did taste good so despite their not being perfect, and I really didn’t expect perfection on my first try, at least they didn’t end up in the bin!  One part that is super stressful is generating steam in my oven.  It is sort of scary pouring the hot water into the skillet, the steam that comes back at your was much more than I was expecting.  Next time I will wear long sleeves, fortunately I didn’t get burned.

Benny

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Benny, go to theperfectloaf.com and check out how Maurizio does steam in his oven using two pans. He has one pan with old soaked dishtowels he puts in early and the other with lava rocks onto which he pours boiling water when loading dough. Maybe try a bake only with the soaked dishtowels. It's not the same but it's less stressful. You could do a combination of dishtowels and spritzing the walls of your oven with a spray bottle just after loading in the dough.. good luck!

 

Benito's picture
Benito

I actually had one loaf pan with water and a towel I once forgot to take out of the oven when I had it protecting the oven door glass😥.  Then I had a skillet that I just poured the near boiling water into.  I did also spritz water into the oven a few times.  I perhaps need to get a watering can to use to pour the water into the skillet, or as you say use another towel in to to generate steam.

algebread's picture
algebread

On the topic of steam: in the course of my baguette quest, I've found that putting a cheap disposable roasting pan over my loaves and then removing it half way through the bake works quite well for steam. Mine cost about $5. At this point, I've used it 4-5 times and it doesn't show any signs of wear yet.

Benito's picture
Benito

I do have a graniteware pan that came with the oven and I could try using that on a higher rack than the dough to steam with.  This might be less scary to pour water into.

 

algebread's picture
algebread

To clarify (I think my phrasing might have been unclear) I place the roasting pan up-side down over the loaves so that it serves as a cover that traps steam. This way I don't have to pour any water at all. Best of luck with whatever steam solution ends up working though.

Benito's picture
Benito

Ah I understand now, that is a good solution for steaming.  I’ll see how this steaming goes but I think I’ll try that at some point.  Thanks for the suggestion and clarification.

Frank550's picture
Frank550

In my very humble opinion, given that you had some issues, they've turned out not too bad at all! They certainly look better than some commercial ones I've bought.

At the end of the day you've produced very acceptable bread that tastes good, and isn't that the whole point, you're not looking for an exhibit in the Louvre!

We all strive for perfection but sometimes 90% is an extremely good result. I think some folks miss that point completely in trying for the perfect crumb, perfect rise, perfect ears etc etc

Well done!

Benito's picture
Benito

Frank that is very generous of you to say, yes they did taste good with a nice enough crumb and thin crisp crust.  I think most of us here are here because we strive to improve our baking so we all have a bit of perfectionism in us.  I don’t feel down about this bake, but really want to learn from it which I definitely did.  Even watching YouTube videos and reading cannot replace actually doing with many things in life, and baking baguettes for sure you must do to learn.

Benny

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Before commenting otherwise, I recommend editing your initial blog post here, and removing the "if you can call them that" verbiage.  You are doing yourself a disservice if you leave that in place.  These are quite commendable.  I have a tendency to be self-deprecating in my write-ups at points, but it is clearly with a tongue in cheek reference.

I think that overall this is a great success story.  The shaping is really good, and I don't have much issue to complain about regarding the scoring.  The scores are fairly longitudinal and they kept to their own "lanes", and as you mention, there was already improvement between the first and second batches.  It's hard to tell from the picutres, but the angle and depth of the blade has an effect on the way that these can open. 

Way better and more consistent than most beginners.  With merely an overnight retard, I can't see where that could have overproofed them.  Although IDY's are more active than levains, which have a slower pace of fermentation.  Often it is "rough" handling of the dough when shaping that takes the air out of them and create a tight crumb.  This is easier to do with a baguette type of shape due to the obvious factors of dimensions.  Also of note, is that your seams were well sealed and on the bottom of the loaves, as there is no side blowout on these, as sure sign of poor sealing of the seam or the seam not sitting directly on the baking deck.

The coloration of the dough is good and consistent, with your noted exception of being baked too close together which lead to the lighter sidewalls.  I'm surprised that a well floured couche would grab onto the dough as you describe.  The baguettes look as though they've been rolled in flour when shaped.  And here is where there can be a distinction between a real flax linen couche and some other material.  The real thing will wick away some of the moisture from the dough while being proofed/retarded. 

You mention that this is a Reinhart IDY only formula but no details on hydration or IDY percent or method.

This has nothing to do with your effort here, but...Although BBA is the book that gave me my initial kick start into baking, I will make my own disappointed observation of Mr. Reinhart's (pâte fermenté) baguette in the BBA book, my edition p. 169.  With all of my respect for him, his experience and contributions to the bread baking world.  I find that his baguettes in the photo on that page to be completely uninspirational, and the crumb lacking any character.  And surprised that this photo would pass muster for inclusion.

Benito's picture
Benito

Thank you Alan for your comments, I have edited the title.  I appreciate your experience and assessment of my bake.  I was a bit surprised at my not being able to get the dough to come off the couche even though I did flour the dough well and thought that I had floured the couche well.  Perhaps my pastry cloth doesn't make a good couche.  It is quite thick and 100% cotton so it certainly isn't the same as a flax linen couche.  I will try to use my pastry cloth again but use rice flour this time since that seems to work well for my sourdough in bannetons.

I'm not 100% sure they they over proofed, the recipe was  680 g white flour, 14 g salt, 7 g IDY and 454 g water, mixed with a stand mixer mostly with some slap and folds as well.  Bulk fermentation for about 1 hour at around 80*F and volume increased by 125% I would estimate.  I then reshaped and then shaped and put into the fridge 3*C for maybe a bit over 24 hours at which point it had increased in size quite a bit.  The way the deflated during transferring was surprising especially for a cold dough so I took that and the further deflation with scoring as another sign of over proofing.

Anyhow, I continue to read through your extremely informative blog about baguettes and hopefully I will learn with more future bakes and improve with each bake as I gradually have with my sourdough batards.

Many thanks for your comments and your blogging as well Alan.

Benny

 

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

1 tsp of IDY is 3.15g.  For the entire Bouabsa formula, which uses 125g less flour, the amount of IDY is merely 0.9g.  Now, that formula is a 75% hydration vs. your 66.7%, so there's some variation to this whole thing based on that alone.  The Bouabsa dough - using that as an IDY benchmark here, is left to rise on the bench for 1 hour with 3 folds and then placed in retard for ~20 hours.  You are using about triple that amount of IDY for a longer retard.  Even retarded, the yeast has likely expired it's food and lost its ability to produce gas.  One reason why it may have deflated as soon as it was scored.

Benito's picture
Benito

Yes the Reinhart recipe is very different from the Bouabsa recipe for sure, the IDY weights are so off.  Thus as I said, over proofed, I was probably bound to overproof given the amount of IDY in it.  Anyhow, knowing this going forward, I hope to build on my success and improve with the next bake.  I will of course report back on my progress once I have made my second batch of baguettes.

Benny