3rd attempt at baguette perfection: Your help is appreciated!
Hello again everyone!
My apologies for not being around for a month or so. I hate it when real life gets in the way of bread making...
This weekend I continued my pursuit for the perfect baguette (OK, "perfect" is a really loaded word. I should say "perfect to me," meaning crispy flaky crust, very open crumb with soft texture and a mild, yeasty taste). I have altered my recipe from past experience and input from wonderful people like all of you, and I'd like to share today's outcome and hopefully get more suggestions. I'll tell you what I did differently this time, and put my questions in bold. Any feedback you can give would be greatly appreciated!
My basic recipe is a combination of Floyd's terrific basic recipe and the Danielle Forrester baguette recipe. This time, a tried a poolish of 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast. I put it in the frige overnight for 10 hours and brought it to room temperature for two hours. It looked like pancake batter, and didn't rise much at all:
Is this too thin? Should it not be refrigerated?
The, I did an autolyse of the flour for the next part of the recipe: 2 cups flour, half-cup water. I was hoping to get a higher hydration level than last time, and hence a more open crumb. I was surprised at the visual and textural result of the autolyse. It ruened out to be loose and crumbly, lumpy and not held together at all:
Again, I was surpised by this. I expected it to be more like a paste. I let it rest for 40 minutes.
Should I have used more water?
Then I combined the ingredients - the poolish to the autolyse, with the remaining 3/4 teaspoon yeast and the 1 1/2 teasoons salt. Combining the salt and yeast concurrently seemed counter-intuitive...isn't sal added to stop yeast's development?
The resulting mix was a lumpy oatmeal dough:
Honestly, I was a little freaked out. So I decided to do a frissage to try and work the lumps out. It was a messy, difficult process, but I didn't want to just throw it in the Kitchenaid. My idea is to do less handling than before.
Was that a stupid idea? Should I allow technology to take the lumps out, or did I screw up from the begining and no amount of motorized labor would rectify matters?
Here's what it looked like after frissage, or apres-frissage, pour tous les Francaises...
Not a significant difference, but I think it worked out pretty well. So next I let it rise for two hours, and I must say it didn't rise as much as I thought it would. I was a bit worried the yeast had gone bad, but I did a French fold anyway to see how things would develop. I used the French fold method found in this video, and I must say I am born again on the no-knead, French Fold method: http://home.att.net/~carlsfriends/jimpics/index.html
The second rise went much better. This time I went 2:45 and the dough had risen significantly and looked good. So I went for another fold and let it rest another hour before I shaped the loaves.
My shaping was pathetic. I got distracted and messed it up, so I won't say anything more about it except, well, I won't ever do it again :)
I did notice that my baguettes seemed flatter than normal. Was this because the dough didn't sufficiently rise? Was it a product of higher hydration?
After baking, here's what the loaves looked like. Pardon that one that looks like a pig's tail...it fell off the wheel before it got to the stone. I hate when that happens:
As for the crumb, I was quite pleased. Just the way I like it!
And I very much enjoyed the taste, though I wish it was a little more yeasty. Because of the lack of rising and yeasty taste, should I add more yeast? As you can see by the size, this almost turned out to be like a ciabatta.
And that's about it. What do you think?
Thanks in advance!