The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Community Bake - Baguettes by Alfanso

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Community Bake - Baguettes by Alfanso

This Community Bake will be featuring one of our very own; the "Baguette Baker Extraordinaire", Alan, aka alfanso. He is among a handful of fine baguette bakers on TFL who have spent years concentrating on baguettes, alfanso's favored craft, and his baguettes are consistently outstanding and consistently consistent.. Consistence and repeatability, coupled with breads that visually signify a particular baker are the hallmark of excellence. When viewing an image of any of Alan's baguettes, those that have been around for a while know exactly who baked the bread. We are fortunate to have him on the forum.

Attention New Readers:
Although the Community Bake started some time back, it is still active. New participants are welcomed to join in at any time! It's constantly monitored and help of any kind is still available.

For those that are not familiar with Alan and his baguettes check out his blog.
 
   

    

Since the Covid Pandemic many new bakers have joined the forum. For those that are not familiar with our Community Bakes (CB) see THIS LINK. It should give you an idea of the concept and how things work.

Alan supplied the following information as a guide line to the bake. There are links below with additional resources. Alan's choice of baguette for the CB is Pain au Levain with Whole Wheat, by Jeffrey Hamelman. Jeffrey Hamelman recently retired as Head Baker at the King Arthur Flour Company. His book, "Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes, 2nd Edition" is considered a "must have" by most of the bakers on this forum.

Alan writes:

I’ve attached the formula and some photos of my most recent bake of this bread.  It is another really easy to manipulate bread that has a fantastic taste, but is not too heavy on the whole grain side. 1250g is a nice amount to create 4 "comfortable sized" baguettes.

I’ve simplified the formula a little by converting it from a 60% hydration to a 100% hydration levain.

Mr. Hamelman uses the term “Bread Flour” but in our realm this really means a standard AP flour with a similar protein profile to King Arthur AP flour, 11.7% protein.

This dough can also be mixed mechanically if you have neither developed the skills nor have the desire to mix by hand."

NOTE - for those using home milled flour a tweak may be necessary.  Whole grain (100% extraction) will absorb quite a bit more water than white flour as well as commercial whole wheat flour. Since I used home milled grain, it was necessary to add more water before the dough became extensible enough to slap and fold. I estimate the water added was approximately 28 grams which brought the hydration to ~72%. I should have taken my own advice and measured the additional water, but I didn’t. For those using home milled grains, if would be helpful if you reported the extra water necessary to do the Slap & Folds. See THIS TECHNIQUE.

   Additional Resources

 

Everyone is welcomed. Both expert and novice can learn and improve their baking skills by participating and sharing their experience. Make sure to post your good, bad, and ugly breads. We learn much more from our failures, than we do from our successes.  

Danny 

A late addition -

In Alan’s reply below he reminded us that this is not a competition. The goal of every Community Bake is to learn from one another. There are no losers, only winners. Each and every participant should become a better baguette baker with the help of others.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

These are perfection! Wow...

On the subject of pizza flour...I found this Walmart brand of pizza flour (photos above).  Is it possible that it has 17% protein??? I've never seen a flour with such high protein %.  Also, with all the talk of trying to find a lower protein % flour in Canada, wouldn't a high protein % pizza flour be a negative for baguettes?

 John

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

That's a mix (mixture) not just flour.  If you look at the ingredients list, there will likely be something extra to boost protein.

Another thing to be aware of... where no decimal places are given on the nutrional label, they round the figure.  "5" grams of protein could in fact be 4.5 grams rounded to 5.  4.5 / 30 = 15%.

Update:  After checking... it has brewer's yeast (look under Nutritional Info), which can be high protein.

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Ahh, understood.  I still dont think I have ever seen a 15% protein flour before. Mixed with boosting ingredients or otherwise.

John

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Levain    water    flour          salt
  247    532+40    888 +10    18
Design point:
 PFF    levain hydration    net hydration    salt    total dough wt
12.0%       100%                     69.0%       1.8%    1725g


Made 252g levain (30g seed + 111g 13% protein bread flour + 111g water; 10 hr @ ~82°F).
Combine 532 water + 888 10.5% protein AP flour  + 10 DM, mix for 5 min @ speed 1.
Autolyse for 10 hr @ 40°F.
Bassinage in 247g of 82°F levain (252g as mixed - 3g of CO2 - 2g of bowl and scraper losses) + 43g 99°F water w/0.703g IDY dissolved in it, followed by 18g salt.
Incorporate levain, then water/yeast, then salt in 8 min as part of 10 min @ speed 1.
DT=64.1°@10 min on speed 1.
DT=67.2 after an additional 2 min @ speed 4.
Very extensible but it feels a little granular when pulling a window pane (don’t know why)
BF– ~2:00 (to 120% of initial volume according to aliquot jar with 30g of dough + 10ml water) with folds at 0, 20, and 60 min (objective is full gluten development at end of shaping).
Divide into 4 x 424g pieces (handles better than with a longer BF), used very little flour on silicone baking mat which assures that dough sticks and re-integrates during shaping.  There was a fair amount of flour on the couche to keep dough from sticking to the scale pan.
Preshape to 10” logs, rest 20, min, final shape to 20” (one baguette took two stages to roll to full length).
Counter proof ~1:00 @78°, already feels slightly overproofed.
Retard @ 47° for ~2:30 to chill and delay bake to 1500. {next time run retard @ 40°F for 1 hr, then raise it to a higher temperature in an attempt to re-saturate the liquid phase of the dough with CO2 before baking}
Slash wide and long, bake 17 min (8 min @ 500°F w/ steam and low fan, 9 min @ 340°F, 20 % humidity).

Results:
Seems to have been a little over-proofed. 
Diastatic malt did add a little color  to the crust.
Almost no ear.  Suspect high hydration due to multiple small additions (6g to wet BF container surface, wet hands for three folds). {note to self - reduce hydration and reduce final proof and see if ear reappears}
Shaping is OK; longer scoring and wider separation and a little more overlap worked fine with no obvious lumps along the length and less obvious twisting of the loaf.
Crumb is irregular but uniform with no obvious places where it was crushed during shaping.
Crisp, almost bell-like snap which I now attribute to lower protein flour - gives the feel of a thinner crust (crumb/crust closeup below)

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Looks great to me!  You even got the party paper thin membrane in the hole structure.  The inspiration of this forum to bake more baguettes and having brie in the house is going to be the death of me...

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Hey all.  I am in the process of my 2nd attempt of last week's baguette bake.  I just did the final shaping and found the dough to be too slack...the opposite of my issue last week, where the dough hadn't rested enough and fought me during shaping.  I do know I added approx 15g extra water by mistake to this dough, which would put it at approx 80% hydration...so let me guess...an overly high hydration dough would probably not be a good thing for baguettes, correct?  VERY difficult to shape.

John

Benito's picture
Benito

The highest I went was 75% and that certainly was more challenging to shape than under 70% hydration.  But of course, your skills and local conditions may make higher hydration more possible.  I think you’ll probably want to pre-shape as a boule fairly tightly and have more resistance to stretching when final shaping.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/fstr/22/6/22_841/_html/-char/en

This is a little technical but the information content is rich. It is about the choice (or random draw) of flour. There is an optimum amount of water for each flour.  And it is a function of flour protein level and other factors. Lower protein flours need a lower hydration.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

If you are using a low protein flour, then there is little you can do. You might try shortening them a little or shaping them very cold.  Of course if they are cold you will also need to wait longer to get them to relax so that you can shape them.

I have enough trouble rolling 425g baguettes to a 20" length when they are made with 10.9% protein flour and mixed to 69% hydration.

Benito's picture
Benito

I’m using the Dan method for marking % rise in the aliquot jar today and Dan you’re right, it is way easier.  The rate limiting step for me was having a way to more precisely add water to the comparator jar.  I brought home a 10 cc  syringe yesterday and that makes it super easy now.  Thanks for the suggestion of using the mass of water to calculate % rise.  I no longer need to use painter’s tape unless I want to mark multiple % rise on the jar.  But for the baguette dough I’m aiming for 25% so no need for multiple markings.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

At 65% hydration, these come in a full 10% lower than my prior seeded version of this formula.  95% AP, 5% Rye.

Still experimenting with the 3 stage levain build.  This had a total of 90 French Folds split in 2, and two gentler Letters Folds during bulk.  2 hrs. BF, divide and pre-shape, 20 min rest before shaping and then retard for ~14 hours. 

Just two complaints here.  I had one bad pre-shape and it is obvious that it carried downstream and I couldn't correct it during the final shaping, the miserable little whelp.  The other issue is that I'm still used to four scores per baguette, and that I'm not adjusting my score lengths to accommodate an additional 5th score. 

Other than that, I'm adjusting to a new world of longer baguettes and improved, or what I think is improved, dough handling (whelp excluded!). I purposely made these just over 400g each to allow me to adjust to a longer length.  No problems rolling these out to this length.

I'm still happily a troglodyte when it comes to no temping or aliquoting, still watching the clock instead of the dough, and so far successfully avoiding a myriad of other techniques along the time line.  

And when I say the name aliquot in my head, it reminds me of that horrid song, if you want to call it that, from the early-60's.   It even had a dance named after it.  Aliquot = Alley Cat, by the Danish pianist Bent Fabric (pronounced bon fabree). Then the simplistic song plays in my head and I have to make sure that I don't have any sharp instruments around to poke myself with in order to help remove the song from my cranium.   And if you don't know it, you can be thankful.  But if you want to be bummed out 1962 style, here it is.

And a peek inside the oven close to the finish line

I would have appreciated a more open crumb, one of my distinct areas for improvement, but at 65% hydration with a tad of whole grain, I think this falls into the acceptable range.  This was from the mangled baguette, so perhaps another will yield a better crumb.

For those who say that a levain bread is incapable of getting as thin a crust as commercial yeast bread, I offer these two pictures.  The crust is incredibly thin and crisp with a definite snap to it as it is is bitten into.

 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Now that crust does appear to be quite thin Alan, but not sure it is Don thin 😛. You are still getting your usual amazing ears and grigne with every bake, it is amazing how consistent you are with those.  How do you like the flavour of these with the 5% rye in them?  Do they have sour note to them?

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and have baked it many times, seemingly always with success.  My breads are virtually never sour, anything beyond mild sour notes borders on vinegary to me - and I'm a person who can eat forkfuls of horseradish and wash it down with swigs of Frank's Hot Sauce on occasion, so it isn't strong tastes I have a problem with.  Just true sour bread.

This bread has a wholesome flavor, for lack of a better term.  It doesn't have the sparkly clean almost sweet taste of a Bouabsa, and there isn't enough of another grain in here to sway the flavor otherwise.

There came a point quite a long while ago where I had faith in my scores opening as they do.  Once the dough is loaded into the oven I don't ever bother peering in through the glass door, because I pretty much know what to expect.  It's those unusual mixes of ingredients that I am not familiar with that gives me even the slightest tinge of anxiety about what will come out.  And even then I don't take a peek until the steam is released.

thanks, alan

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

What a beaut!  Very inspiring.  I need to lower my hydration and get my shaping down before I try 75%...my last 80% was a mistake...ended up being VERY difficult to shape.  Quite a mess.

This shows you don't need the higher hydration point to acheive a very nice finished product.

John

alfanso's picture
alfanso

in bakers have hydrations below 70%, more like 67-68.  There are a number of breads in the Hamelman book Bread that have hydrations below 70%, a place where I tend to be.

Thanks, alan

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Graceful tapers and burnt ends. It looks like the the fewer folds are allowing the grigne to open up more and the crust to be thinner. That's purely projection on my part but no harm in doing even fewer folds next time to see where it leads. I remember the Alley Cat song thanks for the ear worm. In the future it would be my preference if displacement theorists and fluid dynamics buffs` would use the term small jar with piece of dough in it.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

Another day, another iteration.

PFF    levain hydration    dough hydration    salt    total wt (g)
12.0%       100%                    65.0%            1.8%    1725
levain    water    added 10.5% AP flour      salt     IDY
248         548           889 + 10 DM               18.6    0.7g
Made 254g levain (lost 3g to CO2 and 3g to bowl and scraper)
Combine 548 water + 899 flour  + 10 DM, mix for 5 min @ speed 1
Autolyse for 10 hr @ 40°F.
Bassinage in 248g levain 0.73g IDY sprinkled on levain + 18.6g salt (1449g net wt of autolysed flour + water + collected condensation)
Incorporate levain, then salt in 8 min as part of 10 min @ speed 1
DT=~62°@10 min on speed 1
DT=66.3°F after an additional 1 min @ speed 4
BF- ~2:30 (to 120% of initial volume according to aliquot jar with 30g of dough + 10ml water)
Cut one slice of dough and minimally shape. (bottom loaf in upper photo, on the right in crumb shot)
Cut a second slice and fold lengthwise then immediately roll out to 20” in two stages (second loaf from bottom, second from the right)
Divide remaining dough into 2 ~equal pieces, preshape into 10” logs and rest 15 min. Roll out to 20”. (top two loaves in upper photo, left two loaves in crumb shot)
Counter proof at 81° room temp for ~1:00; plan for an additional 30 min of effective proof time as it chills in the retarder
Retard @40°F for 2 hr. Check proof progress to avoid over proofing
Dough temperature was 45°F @ 2:00
Slash wide and long
Bake using BAG-STM2 oven program (preheat to 525°F, bake with steam and low fan speed for 8 minutes; reduce temperature to 340°F and humidity to 20%, reverse loaves and bake an additional 9 min)

Changes from last bake:
● Lower hydration (65% vs 69%),
● Fully chilled before slashing (45°F vs 55°F), and not over proofed.

Improvements:
● Lower hydration and not over proofing combined to make BIG EARS.
● Lower hydration made shaping and slashing easier
● Fully chilling the dough before baking may have further contributed to ease of slashing (cuts were clean and there was no drag and there was no obvious slicing open of alveoli).

Insights:
● It is clear that you don't need super high hydration to get an open crumb (Trevor Wilson makes that point strongly; this is some supporting evidence). 
● Every flour has an optimum hydration level which maximizes loaf volume, and a lower protein level in the flour generally has a lower optimum hydration as well. The right dough texture for handling should be the objective when setting the hydration.  And every flour is different, to the point where two flours with approximately the same protein level may need significantly different amounts of water (up to ±1% hydration) to deliver the dough handling qualities you want. 
● You need the right surface to shape on, and the right amount of flour on the surface to provide the necessary friction for shaping and rolling.
● Lower protein flour seems to produce a more crispy ("thinner") crust, perhaps for the same reason that soft wheat flour is used for crackers.
● While shaping really is about shaping, the openness of the crumb is much more heavily influenced by the steps that occur before the end of bulk fermentation (e.g., flour selection, hydration, autolyse, gluten development/mixing/folding)

Crumb shots of all four baguettes included below for comparison

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Very good experimentation!  And it answers my question and problem with shaping 75+% hydration baguette dough.  Time to dry it up a bit!

John

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Bites the dust. Another one and another one and another one bites the dust.

kendalm's picture
kendalm

That I instantly know who baked what by the pics.  Doc the crumb is beautiful ! 

gavinc's picture
gavinc

I enjoyed reading this post. Your insights (conclusions) to this experiment resonate and give me food for thought as I consider how far to push my local flour of 11.5% protein. 

Great read.

Cheers,

Gavin.

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow Doc, there are a lot of pearls of baking wisdom in your post there.  Your ongoing pursuit of baguette perfection is really paying off big time and will help anyone who wants to take up the baguette challenge.  I think we would agree that lowering hydration isn’t a hindrance in attaining an open crumb and you’ve just put out another example that shows that in spades.  You have shown good evidence that lowering hydration may be one factor in getting better ears and grigne as well, this is something I’ll have to try next time I start a baguette dough, but too late for this weeks baguettes which are in the cold retard now. But this too makes sense since a slightly stiffer dough flap will not collapse as readily once scored.  

Lower protein flour requiring less hydration also makes sense.  You shared with me a formula for hydration and protein content of flour. hydration = ((1.5 * protein%) + 43.6)/100 That would make your 10.7% protein flour optimally require 59.35% hydration, I must be missing something in my calculations, can you shed further light on how to use the formula?

 

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I went back to your first baguette post on the CB just over two months ago. http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/64622/community-bake-baguettes-alfanso#comment-461355 .  The level of skill has been upgraded significantly.  Aside from experimentation, controlled or otherwise, there is nothing like practice and paying attention to the process and details to usher improvements like this.

Great post, alan 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I had not (still have not quantitatively) made the comparison but that was my first entry so a fair place to start. 

What I see is a slightly lower hydration, but a substantially different flour, a long cold autolyse was added, and a tiny bit of commercial yeast.  Current temperatures are cooler by 20°F but the timing is not hugely different. I have reduced the amount of flour on the surface when I divide and shape, and I use a quite different approach to pre-shaping. Oven cycle is different, with 10g of diastatic malt added to a batch to improve crust color.  Mixer is different so mixing is different too.  The trajectory from then to now is a long series of (mostly single parameter) incremental adjustments so it was not a direct path by any means.

And I am clearly not done.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

It looks like to me that the IDY and low protein flour has helped to open up your crumb a little more.

However I take exception with your gross mischaracterization of Trevor Wilson's Open Crumb Mastery. Besides only mentioining baguettes anecdotally in reference to handling proofy dough. There is no mention of IDY in relation to achieving open crumb. After he explains that open crumb in sourdough is as much about fermentation and handling and that just adding water will not do it until you are ready for it. I copy and pasted this from my second edition in his words

Alrighty then. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's look at some legitimate reasons to use a wet dough:

• It can open up your crumb. I know, I know. I just got finished ranting that wet dough isn't the solution for bakers who can't get an open crumb. That's still true. But for bakers who can achieve an open crumb, making a wetter dough is the next logical step to achieving even more openness. We'll get to the reasons a bit later, but increasing the hydration of your dough can certainly make for a more open and irregular texture if that's what you're after.

The chapters that follow that statement are

Section 3: Working With Wet Dough...............................................................................................213

Just What Exactly is Wet Dough? ..................................................................................................... 218

Effects of High Hydration in Dough .............................................................................................. 219

Characteristics of High Hydration Bread ...................................................................................... 224

Mixing Wet Dough.....................................................................................................................227

Revisiting “Stretch and Fold” and “Rubaud Method”.......................................................................229

Building Structure in Wet Dough ...................................................................................................... 233

You scientific bakers can get a little too self assured about outcomes and start wielding it like a club.This is not the first time I have witnessed it from you. You seem to pounce on every post I make. As the lone wolf pariah of high hydration I am having to defend the merits of adding more water to flour as everyone seems to be looking for a reason to avoid sticky dough. Now two more are thinking that turning off the spigot and throwing in the towel on water is the way to go

I am sorry everyone, for ranting on this epitome of politeness forum but declarative statements have always gotten my hackles up. 

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

You found exactly the paragraph from Trevor Wilson that I would have pointed to as encouragement to develop an open crumb capability before pushing up the hydration to further open it up.  I interpreted his guidance as "don't depend on high hydration to achieve an open crumb, though it will be a contributing factor".  And the 65% experiment was just that, an experiment to assess the impact of reducing the hydration.

The experiments of Tom Cucuzza demonstrated pretty clearly that the steps prior to bulk ferment are where the open crumb comes from, so the results in my case are more personal confirmation of his results than new information.  But I found it interesting to observe all the same.

While I now use a tiny bit of commercial yeast, that is a relatively new addition (motivated by Benito's spectacular results) as I resisted it for a long time because I didn't want to introduce another variable into a set of designed experiments. And sometime next week I should get to the trial where I repeat either the 65% hydration or a 59% hydration experiment with the deletion of IDY just to see how much of a difference it makes.

I encourage feedback from anyone who thinks that I have made an experimental error, or misinterpreted a result or a writing by someone else (Trevor Wilson in this case). And I am appreciative of well designed experiments that we all can repeat to verify a result or a claim.  That is how knowlege is gained. The other side of that coin is results that attempt to replicate mine and don't.  Those become the error signals that drive better experiments. My objective is to better understand the science so that design can lead more directly to better results. And I am available via PM if anybody has a particular bone to pick.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Doc, your top halves (like mine) have tighter crumb than the bottoms. What suggestions do you have for a solution?

Great Bake! It seems the shape of a baguette makes it prone to open crumb. I am wondering if even heat from all sides is the key to perfect crumb. I bet we could get decent crumb at 60%. 

It is also interesting to note that the crumb of the first loaf that was not shaped is the worst of all. So, what does shaping do to improve the cell structure?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I suspect that the openness of the crumb is set by factors other than the heat of the oven.  The unshaped loaf has a more irregular crumb than any of those that received more manipulation, so there is perhaps some redistribution of cells in the process of shaping (either by elimination or by consolidation). The process of cell consolidation is one that fascinates me but mostly because I don't understand it.

The photo below shows a sectioned baguette (it looks like two - one on the left and one on the right) that illustrates the random distibution of holes in the dough (these were about to be made into bruschetta).  I don't see an obvious difference between cells below the middle of the slice and those above.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Baguettes, moitié-moitié. Regardez-moi, critiquant les boulangers professionnels! Sourire...

Benito's picture
Benito

I can’t believe I’ve made 15 sets of baguettes.  I’ve never repeated any other formula so many times.  Thankfully we really do enjoy the flavour of these baguettes.  I am still doing Abel’s formula and nothing has significantly changed there.  The hydration must be around 67.5% so I haven’t dropped the hydration to see if the ears would improve.  However, I did change the bulk rise.  This time I ended bulk at 25% rise in the aliquot jar (sorry to those of you who hate that word but it reminds me of organic chemistry and biochemistry labs which are much worse memories for me than any song might be for you).  The dough went into cold retard for 24 hours in bulk.  I pre-shaped as a loose roll, rested 20 mins and then shaped again using the method Abel used in his video.  I’m pretty happy with his pre-shaping and shaping overall it is fewer steps than what I was doing and I don’t see that much of a different in outcome so far.  After shaping I put the baguettes en couche into the fridge and at that time started the oven.  I wanted to try to stop any further fermentation since I was going for a lower bulk this time and didn’t want to add much extra fermentation while the dough was at room temperature.

I really meant to change just one variable at a time and it was supposed to be bulk rise, but unbelievably the last bake the bottom crust was a bit underdone, so this time thinking about Dan and Geremy baking hot I decided to pre-heat and bake with steam at 525ºF.  Then continue without steam at 500ºF.  

As far as scoring goes, I now agree that I do not think I needed to score deeply, I am now scoring with about a 45* angle to the dough surface and maybe 0.25-0.5 cm depth.  Also the dough was much more enjoyable to score being less proofed and cold.  The scores were done quickly with pretty clean cuts.  This time I am getting what are good ears and grigne for me.  I think the issue all along has been I was pushing bulk fermentation to the limit.  Past the limit really if one wanted to have ears and grigne and a good cross sectional profile to the baguette.  I’m glad things are coming together gradually.  Overall I’m pretty happy with how these look on the outside, I’ll cut one to have with dinner and hope the crumb is still as open as the previous ones, but I suspect that it may not be since I think that it was pushing bulk so far that was getting me that crumb.

Benito's picture
Benito

So the crumb, pretty good, there are some areas of higher density that I didn’t have in the past.  I think we have successfully answered the question of how I was getting such great open crumb, Don said it earlier somewhere.  It was because I was pushing bulk fermentation.  With this bake only going to 25% rise and then limiting bench rest during shaping I went in the opposite direction.  The crumb is still fine, but just not quite as impressive as previous bakes with bulk pushed to 30-40%, but those were done at the cost of not having good oven spring, ears and grigne.  What do you think, is this a good balance now?

Benito's picture
Benito

If someone could explain to me how to get rid of tight crumb areas like this circled below, I’d be very grateful.  Is it my dough handing during shaping?  Bulk fermentation?

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I am just offering observational notes to self.  I would be willing to bet that this highlighted section was cloae to a neighboring loaf.  I have said this before - often times I believe tight crumb represents areas of your loaf that heated up slower than than the rest. I think in this case the other side was on outer edge of the oven deck thereby receiving the bulk of the hot air and springing up more efficiently.  You might verify this by observing the crust color in both locations.  Probably darker where the crumb is more open.  

The reason I believe this is that often the case goes back to the many bakes I did with my old domestic oven.  With sideways loaded loaves, the ends would usually spring up first, and once done, resulted is better crumb (and burst) at the ends.  

Often times members pose this question with boules and batards complete with diagnostic photos of loaf cross-sections.  In so many cases their loaf is open near the top and ends and dense at the base in which case I imagine their stone is not doing as much work as the surrounding hot air.  In your case my best guess is again, due to the position of the loaves.  Maybe next time you can take note of how your loaves were situated and see if the dots connect to the above hypithesis ;) 

 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Interesting hypothesis Geremy and one that I’ll need to investigate.  One thing though, I do rotate the baguettes to try to get them to brown evenly.  I just remembered now that I forgot once again to switch to convection after streaming to try to help even the browning.  However, I should still be able to some variation in the depth of browning.  I’ll take note of this with the next baguette I slice open.  

kendalm's picture
kendalm

I was going to mention rotation but figured it muddy up the general message.  after 5 minutes rotation will not have much influence on the interior - so yeah ohly the crust and when I siad that inspecting the crust as a queue I thought about qualifying that statement.  Either way I thinknits something worth checking out. 

Benito's picture
Benito

I should probably have been more specific after steaming is done, then 5 minutes later I rotate for the first time.  By that time the crumb should be set.

Benito's picture
Benito

Geremy, I heated up the last of the more recent batch of baguettes I baked.  I think that the crumb did seem to be tighter on the side that wasn’t quite baked as darkly as the other darker side.  You are likely correct in your thinking that the side that might not get a hot while baking might not open up was well as the sides that do reach a higher temperature.  I’ve just started an overnight levain build for another set of baguettes.  I will pay more attention to the degree of bake the sides get and look actively for any correlation between that and tight crumb, but I think you’re onto something.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Said before and again, your game is top notch.

However, I want to stop the clock and call a time out.  Unless I'm misreading the conversation there is chatter about  grigne and high vs. low hydration.  The pretense that good grigne and ears are the product of low hydration, - i.e. you can't get good ears from higher hydration doughs is just plain false.

Rather than blather, here are merely a few of many links to high hydration baguettes with what I consider good ears.  They all happen to be mine, so I think I know what I'm talking about here.

I could go on.  If you feel that I haven't proven my point with differing formulae and differing dough mixes, I think I'll need convincing.

In summary, hydration has little to do with getting a good grigne and ear.  The majority of the task is within the baker's hands and skill set.

Benito's picture
Benito

Alan with all the help around here how can a guy/gal not figure it out eventually?  I do feel I have a much better handle on what I need to do to produce good baguettes now.  I think the biggest thing holding me back from producing ears and grigne was the bulk fermentation and proofing.  In relative terms I was going too far.  Having cut  back on both bulk fermentation and final proofing I’m finally getting there.

Without having increased the hydration, I don’t know if that would hold me back from getting ears or grigne.  Based on the evidence you produce bake to bake to bake, I’d say I agree with you.  You certainly produce amazing ears and grigne with every bake high or low hydration.  Going forward I’ll have to decide on my next steps to further improve.  I’m thinking along the lines of Don, slowly increasing hydration might allow my dough to be more extensible and allow me to get to the maximum length of my baking steel 16”.  I am still challenged by even getting to that length and nowhere near the 20 plus inch baguettes you guys are producing.

I feeling much more comfortable shaping the dough now especially with the shortened bulk and I think I can now try increasing hydration especially since I am not working with finicky French flour.  However, once again I am out of the 10% protein flour I had been using.  I have found a Canadian flour from Quebec that is also 10% so I will be working with that next time.  Hopefully since they speak French when farming and milling this flour it will be more like the stuff from France.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Beyond the basics, I'd be the last to admit to taking a scientific approach to this whole baking thang.  You likely know that I watch the clock and not the dough. So there is no way that my input would provide any break-through wisdom.  As such, my bulk fermentation knowledge is somewhat tribal and not particularly based on any other means.

Could I be a better baker if I got more analytical or changed to a different plan?  Get a better open crumb structure?  I can't deny that something, maybe many things would work toward that outcome.  But the question I've already answered long ago is, am I happy with what I can produce now with just the occasional change?  

I wish there was some insight that I could provide, but from what I state above, my methodology is my limitation.

GlennM's picture
GlennM

I followed the “Benny” method for the second time. I did have one end of one baguette blowout due to too much flour when shaping. No ears to speak of but good oven spring with 30% increase in the bulk. This seems to be an excellent method to work on. I need to be more careful with shaping and I’m not sure that it helps to brush with water?

 

 

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Glenn, cool to see someone else working with Abel’s formula.  I forgot to brush with water this time and in fact I don’t think I had fewer small blisters without the water.  You certain got great colour to your crust and great oven spring.  Do you like the flavour of the baguettes, will you try Abel’s formula again?

Edited:  corrected to Glenn.

gavinc's picture
gavinc

Benny, they are not mine. They belong to Glenn.

Cheers,

Gavin

 

Benito's picture
Benito

Oh duh, facepalm 🤦‍♂️ sorry Glenn and Gavin, reading comprehension issues happening.

GlennM's picture
GlennM

I really like the flavour.  I think the addition of a little yeast helps with that. Oven spring is great and colour is excellent (thanks to the malt). I need to work a bit on the shaping with a little less flour on the bench. It seems I use a different method of shaping on every baguette 🥖 

Can someone give me a link to the original formula?  I want to make a couple of small adjustments and try and get this down

Benito's picture
Benito

Here is the post that Alfanso kindly shared his interpretation of Abel’s baguette formula. It has been the basis of what I have been baking with adjustments. Abel’s formula 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

 Sicilian salami with provolone cheese, hot red peppers, olive oil, and  red wine vinegar. On a home made fresh (from frozen baguette.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

PFF       Levain hydration   Dough hydration   Salt     Total dough wt
12.0%            59%                    59.0%           1.8%        1725g

Levain (59%)                 Water          AP flour            Salt
203g (27+68+116)          557g    934g + 10g DM    19.3g

Made up stiff levain (59%) and let it ferment for 9 hours
Mixed flour + water at 59% hydration and autolysed at 40°F overnight

Dough:
1496g cold autolysed flour and water (including condensation)
203g levain
0.728g IDY sprinkled on levain
19.3 salt added during first 6 min of mixing
Mix 10 min at speed 0; final DT=71.1°F (up from ~62°F for the 65% hydration batch)
BF'ed to 125% of original volume based on 30g sample in 100g aliquot jar
Divided into 4 parts and preshaped, rested 30 min, final shaped
Counter proof for 2:30 at which point they were still a little under proofed; decided to go to the oven and bake without any retard
Baked using BAG-STM2 program (slashed using Benny's guidance - lame rotated 45° CW - produced great ears but I don’t know if that was technique or just the stiff dough).

Process changes from last bake:
● Lower hydration (59% vs 65%)
● A little more bulk fermentation (but I think not enough)
● Dough was not chilled before slashing

Results changes:
● This dough was really a pleasure to work with.  The best comparison I can make is with the dough that Martin uses in this shaping demo
● And strangely, this dough was amazingly extensible (which I did not exptect) and each baguette was almost trivial to roll out to 21 or 22" and had to be somewhat compressed to get them to fit within a 20" wide couche. Two baguettes were folded lengthwise to shorten the doughpiece before pre-shaping. After a 30 min rest, all of the dough was fully relaxed and was then easily shaped without resistance.  I can't tell after the fact which ones were folded and which ones were just cut and rolled after a 30 min rest.
● Lower hydration probably contributed to big ears and more oven spring (enough to break the straps separating the gringe in many places)
● Lower hydration again improved shaping and slashing
● Lower hydration may have contributed to more browning as well, but the crumb was not as moist as it was with the 65% dough
● These came out darker than prior batches and the crumb is not as open as it has been in the past.
● The less open crumb I attribute to an insufficiently long bulk fermentation, so next time I will step up the target volume increase to 50% and perhaps also extend the final proof a little.  The fact that I did not need to chill the dough before going to the oven says a lot about the dough texture at that point.

DanAyo's picture
DanAyo

Doc, you are headed on a path that very few travel. I find it extremely interesting. 

How would you describe the affects of the cold autolyse?

Is the low hydration making the baguette more chewy and dense? 

Observation -
My last batch used DM (0.75%). It gave the baguette an obviously sweet flavor. A dark roasted Non-diastatic Malted Barely may give me the dark crust, although the crumb will also be darker. May try this, I’ve had good results with it in the past.

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

I found the crumb to be more dense, though I am hesitant to assign a cause because of the strong suspicion that there was insufficient bulk fermentation. The next batch will hopefully be a better basis for making a critical assessment.

As for the cold autolyse, my current sense is that I am seeing some passive gluten formation and perhaps an increase in extensibility, but I have not attempted a side by side comparison of a short (20 min) warm autolyse and an overnight cold autolyse.  That would be a good thing to do after I have done a suitable number of runs with the long cold autolyse.  When I do that, I am thinking that I probably need to use very cold water and perhaps pre-chilled flour so that the dough temperatures for the two batches are similar.  So I guess that comparison would be a short cold autolyse vs a long cold autolyse.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

And if you have that spiral mixer, ice chips to add to the mixing bowl.  Won't get anything colder then that.

Benito's picture
Benito

It really surprises me that lowering the hydration made your dough more extensible.  You would never predict that if you’d never actually tried to stretch out baguette dough with low hydration based on your only experience with French folding lower hydration dough.  I am interested to see how this looks when done again with low hydration but with bulk fermentation pushed farther to see how open a crumb you can get.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

bagel hydration territory.  I don't see your standard bassinage - I suppose the dough would be way too stiff for that.  

The progression of scoring results from top to bottom is noteworthy.  Are you scoring them differently?  the bottom baguette is closer to the "ideal" baguette scoring than the other two.

Do you take a pre and post bake weight to see what the percentage of water loss is?

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

At 59% there is just enough water to get the flour fully wet with nothing left over to incorporate after gluten development. When I plugged 59% into my design sheet for final dough hydration, I discovered that unless I changed the levain hydration, the autolyse was going to be at 53% hydration which is way on the far side of bagel dough.  So I had to mix the levain at 59% just to make enough water available.

I did take a shot of the post-slash/pre-bake baguettes (below) and I don't see any obvious difference, but would certainly appreciate any comments/critique of what you see that I have missed. Two baguettes were shaped from strips that were cut off the long edge of the dough mass without any effort to shorten them prior to rolling to length, while the other two were folded lengthwise as a minimal pre-shaping step. Both sets rested 30 min before final shaping. After I had put them on the pans I thought about which one was which and could not tell by looking and did not remember the order in which they were shaped, couched, then transferred to the pans.  The wrinkling of the dough at the slashes is probably associated with not chilling them before baking.

Weight loss was 420 - 345 (within 2g) for all of them so ~18% which is a little more than the 15% that I would use for planning if I expected the weights and measures inspector to drop in.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Because there's so many good things going on in your scoring here.  Those serrated scores are hard to avoid with soft and warm dough although a quicker but unhurried score could mitigate that somewhat.  I also always dip the business tip of my blade in the slightest puddle of olive oil before each set of scores.  I've tried it both ways with basically no difference, but old habits are hard to break.

So...being hypercritical and looking for things here.  The tip to toe scores are the ticket, for sure, as well as the overlap between scores.  If anything, perhaps you are traversing the score a little too much from west to east.  I'm also seeing the distance between scores as being a tad too far apart giving you a wider band of crust between the blooms.  The alternative is too narrow a gap where the bloom violates the band and bursts right through it.

At this point it's all nitpicking and I see that you are doing a better job or parsing out the scores evenly to accommodate the fifth score better than I currently am.

I don't know if this would make a difference, but my physical position in relation to the dough is neither sideways nor head on.  I rotate the baking peel so that the dough is slightly offset and I have a better "approach", similar to how the pros score dough on the canvas conveyer belt.  As such...

Here are four different formula breads and what the scoring looks like pre-bake.  Perhaps you can glean some additional knowledge by checking them out.  I'll leave them full size for your easier investigation. 

 Hamelman based Potato Bread

 Hamelman Pain au Levain

 Maurizio's 75% hydration baguette

Mystery Guest, may be a Hamelman Vermont SD

Doc.Dough's picture
Doc.Dough

They all look like they were scored cold.  And it appears that you are scoring straight down with a straight blade rather than applying a rotated slash with the curved lame that I thought you used.

Your posture and orientation match what I naturally do.  My perforated pans are 20-7/8" long so it is a lot easier to rotate them 45° and slash on an angle. And I too use my left hand to stabilize the dough and act as a guide.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

And although it looks to be a straight downward score, the wrist is actually rotated slightly and the blade enters at an angle.  Here's a close-up of my sophisticated lame holder...http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/56948/better-lame#comment-413766

Yes, mentioned with regularity that I almost always score cold dough.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

that clearly show the angle of the score.  I found a few and enlarged them to show you.  Had the score been directly down we would not see either side wall inside the score.  Or see both side walls.  Bt we see one, which shows the angled score.  These were taken from directly above the oven peel.

 

As you can see, the angle does not need to be great, and the wetter the dough, the slightly sharper the angle.  If you recall, Benny was having problems with scoring recently because his scores were "filleting" the dough with too sharp an angle.  Since corrected.

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

Friday night.

Exact same formula & procedure

1. Malt syrup and yeast dissolved in the water. (60 seconds Bosch #1)

2. flour added to water mixture in 4 approx. 250-gram additions (90 seconds Bosch #1

3 Dough moved to B.F. container. 60 minutes ( down from 75 minutes)