The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Poolish baguettes from Hamelman's "Bread"

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Poolish baguettes from Hamelman's "Bread"

Baguettes with Poolish


Baguettes with Poolish


Baguette crumb


Baguette crumb 

In my ongoing efforts to make wonderful baguettes at home, today I baked the Poolish baguettes from Hamelman's "Bread."

 The poolish was made late last night. This morning it was about doubled and very bubbly. I used King Arthur AP flour for the poolish and for the dough. This worked well. I think the dough had the desired consistency with the exact amounts of ingredients called for in the formula. No adjustments were necessary. I mixed the dough for 3-3.5 minutes in a KitchenAide mixer, fermented 2 hours with one fold at 60 minutes. The dough was scaled and preshaped, then rested 10 minutes before shaping. I proofed the baguette for 60 minutes and baked 24 minutes at 460F with steam. I propped the oven door slightly open after I removed the skillet with water at 10 minutes in hopes of a thinner, crisper crust. I think it helped some.

 I think the result was my best baguettes to date. I attribute this to less mixing, gentler shaping and not over-proofing the loaves. My scoring is better but still far from what I would have liked. The crumb color was distinctly yellowish. I assume this is from the carotene I usually oxidize by over-mixing dough. The cut baguette had a somewhat yeasty smell, which is not desirable, but it didn't taste yeasty. The taste was less sweet than some baguettes, but nice and wheaty. 

Hamelman's recipe makes 3 lb 6 oz of dough. I scaled 2 portions at 12 oz. The rest I make into one batard shape and tried to cut it to make a "Viverais," one of the fancy shapes in "Advanced Bread and Pastry." It didn't really work, but the result was ... interesting ... and the bread was very good tasting.

 Viverais made with baguette dough

Viverais made with baguette dough

Viverais crumb

Viverais crumb 

 

The photo of the crumb doesn't do justice to the lovely yellow color it had. 

 David

Comments

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

Your baguettes look almost exactly like what I've purchased at Whole Foods - the recipe I asked about re-creating at home and the size looks perfect. I have Hammelman's book on my cookbook shelves - I will definately have to dig it out and start experimenting again.

Trish

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've tried several formulas for baguettes from several books. Hamelman's formulas have consistently produced good results for me. 

That said, baguettes have been a continuing challenge for me. I think they are the most finicky bread I've ever made. If the dough is too wet, the cuts won't bloom. If it's too dry, the crumb is too dense. If under-fermented, they don't taste as good, and don't have a nice crumb structure. If over-kneaded, they have a too-uniform crumb. If over-proofed, the cuts don't open up. 

This batch had the best oven spring and bloom yet, but, from what I've read about the history of baguettes, they became popular with the invention of the steam-injected oven in Paris in the early 20th century. I'm not sure that baguettes like those pictured in the bread cookbooks can really be produced in a home oven. If they can, the method still escapes me. 

It's fun trying, though. 

When you try Hamelman's Poolish baguettes, let us see them. I'm eager to hear about how they turn out for you and any recipe tweaks you found helpful.

David

hullaf's picture
hullaf

I made this baguette a month ago and just ate the last one saved in the freezer. Tasted great. Sorry, no pictures. It warmed up great in the toaster oven after a short thaw and the crust was as crisp as the day I made it. I followed the recipe fairly exact using the KA bread flour, the timing, gentle shaping, and most importantly, the couche. The crumb and holes were like dmsnyder's but not as brown. I have a hard time with steam in my gas oven. (Oh really!) And I did put one baguette in a "Steam Baking Master" French bread pan with cover and that loaf turned out a bit crispier. I always need practice shaping the baguette though. And slashing or scoring too. Dmsnyder, like you, I find Hamelman's formulas seem to work for me, though I usually only make two-thirds a recipe -- to not overtax my mixer and my waistline.   Anet

Trishinomaha's picture
Trishinomaha

I also have a gas range and oven. If I had it to do over, I'd have gotten the gas range with a convection oven it would have cost more but I think it would have been easier to bake in. That being said, I guess we will just have to keep working with the gas ovens we have to get the best result we can...=).

Trish

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hi David,

Nice bread!

For your concerns about looking like a baguette and steam ovens, etc... I see baguettes on blogs in France almost daily and they look very authentic which leads me to believe there might be an ingredient issue as well. Maybe a shaping one, to? Have you tried doing short but still very thin? The ones you show are more like "bâtards" in shape. I don't know that particular recipe but from my reading, the baguette process is pretty darn tedious! I made the one from Glezers book. And yes, steam is really important. I know what you mean by the process being FUN! I am still willing to send you some authentic French flour if you want!

This said, I'd be very happy to have your bread for breakfast this morning!

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well, that does it! You just changed my plan to give up on baguettes. 

You know, I don't like eating them all that much compared to SF Sourdough or any pain de compagne-type bread. But the "tedious" process, I actually enjoy. I like shaping batards and baguettes. 

The baguettes pictured above were shaped using Hamelman's method, which has one extra folding of the dough before lengthening it. I tried to form the loaves more gently, and I think I suceeded.  

You may be correct about the flour, but I think it's the combination of a particular flour and the right hydration level for that flour and the right degree of gluten formation. I feel I learn more each time I make baguettes. I'll get them right one of these days. I think I have at least 5 flours in my pantry right now with which I could make respectable baguettes, if I got all the other variables right. Hmmm .... The logical method would be to stick with one flour until I accomplish that. 

I like your suggestion about shaping smaller baguettes. I have been keeping to a standard diameter but shortening the loaf - demi-baguettes. Maybe I should try shaping ficelles? 

I need to give some more thought to my steaming method too. 

All this is about appearance. I can't complain about how the bread is to eat. I dare say, you would enjoy it for breakfast. I had some this morning, untoasted with butter and apricot preserves. And a cappucino. This evening, we toasted slices of the monster loaf for bacon lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Very nice. Tomorrow for breadfast, it will have to compete with the Cinnamon-Current-Walnut bread I baked this afternoon, however. It's going to lose. 

If we did a flour swap, what U.S. flour would you want to try?

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I'm going to try and post that light rye recipe I told you about. Life is hectic these days, husband out of town, alone with the kids. Yikes! I still bake bread but I can't find the time to do my "hobbies"!

You are probably right about the type of flour and getting it right. Since great baguettes exist over there as well, I suppose! I'd still be curious what you'd do with French flour (I have a reputation for being obsessed with "experiments!". So, if we did a swap, don't laugh, but I'd just like to try some basic, good quality white bread flour to see what it's all about. You can send me your address through my blog if you want to do the swap.

Jane 

holds99's picture
holds99

David,

Thanks for your post, especially your explanation: "If the dough is too wet, the cuts won't bloom. If it's too dry, the crumb is too dense. If under-fermented, they don't taste as good, and don't have a nice crumb structure. If over-kneaded, they have a too-uniform crumb. If over-proofed, the cuts don't open up."  For years I have been trying to find the right combination (technique/ingredients) and your comments are extremely helpful.  Like you, I read somewhere that you can't duplicate the Parisian baguette but if Jane says it can be done I believe her.  She is right, as I recall, they are bit flatter and wider.  I really believe it has something to do with the flour type and professional steam injected ovens they use.  Oh well, as Poe says, we must keep searching for El Dorado.

I have been fiddling and experimenting, trying to get something close to what I think might be a Parisian baguette for at least ten years.  I've got composition books filled with experiements and notes...I keep going back, trying sort of like trying to get the last few cubes to fall into place with a rubix cube..move one thing and the other thing moves out of position.  You did very good with your loaves, both your batard and baguettes look delicious.  I'm definitely going to try Hammelman's recipe, using your suggestions.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I'm sure you have looked at the photos in Hamelman's "Bread" comparing baguettes baked in various ways. It really looks like steam makes the difference in how the cuts open up. 

I think, for my next attempt, I am going to shoot for a dough that's just s teeny bit lower hydration and a different steaming procedure. I will ask my wife to tie my hands behind my back once the loaves are in the oven, and I've poured water in the skillet and not release me for 25 minutes. This should keep me from opening the oven door to spray more water, until the baking is done. I'm thinking I've been dropping the oven temperature so much it inhibits oven spring and bloom. What do you think? 

I'm going to keep the flour constant for now (KA AP flour).

David

holds99's picture
holds99

David,

I have looked at the Hamelman photos.  Don't know why I haven't done Hamelman's baguettes before.  Just got diverted by too many baking books, I guess.  Now, I'm back in the baguette groove, so to speak. 

I used to spray, then I tried ice (Rose Levy recommends ice cubes in a pan, but I then I read that ice cubes also cools the oven down) so now, like you, I'm using a cast iron skillet with micorwaved simmering water out of a measuring cup into the preheated skillet, which works best so far.  After reading Reinhart (I think) I remember reading that you lose up to 25 deg. each time the oven door is opened.  Old habits die hard, so I have installed a time lock on the oven door that won't release until midway through the baking cycle :-)  Only kidding.  But, of late, I don't open the oven door after the steam is applied unless I have to turn the loaves around, mid-way through the baking cycle, which I have to do for large loaves, and it seems to help a lot.

I have a couple of 3lb bags of French style K.A. flour in the fridge that I will try and also will make them with, as you suggest, K.A. A.P. flour.  I'll let you know how they turn out.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, I don't know if this is FACT, but a baguette dough really isn't very wet. One may think so because it has big holes in the end, but the initial dough is rather normal in feel. It balls. It is then the handling and forming that gets all those air pockets in there. LOOOONG fermentation and a several step shaping. The last ones I made felt like there were holes under the suface. Though they weren't perfect, I had also realized that I'd made them with T65 and they are usually made with a whiter flour and I had forgotten a couple of steps (must have been kids around) they were definitely a step closer. Most French bakeries cheat and they use flour with stuff in it. But a REAL artisanal baguette is a long series of handlings. And then a perfect bake with that steam!

I actually bought some T55 to do some again but then didn't take the time to do it. It'll be on my list!

 

holds99's picture
holds99

Jane,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the baguette process.  There's a webcam site from Paris that shows pictures, at 5 second intervals or thereabout, of the bakery and the big oven with a conveyor belt for loading and unloading the baguettes into and out of the oven.  Because the camera is fixed you really can't see all that much, particulary with the time difference.  I occasionally go to the site and try to see someone working.

Edit: here a link to the bakery webcam http://www.siteparc.fr/bonneau/Webcam.htm

Check out the photo gallery of desserts... Amazing. 

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Thanks Howard! You really are a gold mine of neat internet stuff and "tricks"... keep it coming! There's nothing on that belt right now but there should be soon seeing as it's the morning.

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The photos of baguette dough I've seen have looked pretty dry, but the recipes have resulted in a somewhat slack dough. I really appreciate your information. I now have permission to try a firmer dough.

The Hamelman recipe calls for a 2 hour bulk fermentation with one fold, a 10-30 minute rest after preshaping and a 60-90 minute proofing. His shaping technique differs from others I've read only in having one more folding of the dough before rolling the loaves out.

Are you saying I should try a longer bulk fermentation? (Presumably with a lower % yeast.) If it's "the handling and forming that gets all those air pockets in there, then, as I understand things, it must be very gentle handling and shaping so as not to pop the bubbles that fermentation creates. Right?

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I recently read that interview with the Parisian boulanger and he said that his rustique baguette is the result of a very long fermentation period (20-30 hrs). I think it is the bulk and it is done in a cool environment (not as cold as a fridge). I dare to say that a fridge stay would help for the home baker. Mike Avery told me about a book on French Bread called The Bread of Three Rivers. An American woman traces the making of a great loaf of French bread. The baker explains that that loaf is the only one he does that does not contain "levain" only yeast. It is made on a poolish. He said that he does the same thing, leaves the dough in a cool environment, but I can't remember if he does that only for the levain breads or for his baguettes as well. I have to go check.

With the experiments I have been doing, I've found that a cold initial rise gives bigger holes than  that night stay after having been formed. Is that "le hasard"? I don't know, but I have also been mainly working with sourdough. Would it do the same for yeast breads? If that is done, I think the initial quantity of yeast has to be very very small to prevent over proofing.

And with that in mind, that is probably why the recipe in Glezer's book is done on a biga and a poolish.... hmmmm, food for thought! 

I'm just throwing out ideas. I'll start experimenting as well as soon as I get some more T55!

Jane 

PS David How nice to see you in a picture! Pictures make discussion more real somehow. 

Richelle's picture
Richelle

discussion, have been reading with great interest, very informative - please keep it going!!

Janedo's picture
Janedo

As baby Margot lay sleeping on my lap, I decided to do a quit search on the net. I found a blog of a woman who did an interview with the Parisian baker and she said that he TOLD her that one of his secrets of success for his baguette "tradition" (baguette made with only pure unbleached flour, yeast, water and salt), the one that won the competition, is a long, cold fermentation (up to 24 hrs). And so this all gives me a nice idea for some sourdough baguettes. Since this long, cold fermentation gives big holes in the rye, it should do the same for baguettes, yeast or sourdough. I see all the experiments coming in my kitchen in the next week or so!

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jane.

Our favorite bread from the local (very good) boulangerie is what they call "whole wheat sourdough baguettes." It is moderately sour, very crusty - both crisp and chewy, if you can imagine - with big holes in the crumb. It has a very rustic appearance with a reddish color and birdseyes, suggesting a long cold fermentation after the loaves are formed. I don't think it has very much whole wheat flour, I'd guess less than 20%. I wonder if it's the baker,Patrick's, attempt to replicate one of the French higher extraction flours (T80? T110?).

I'm going to try making sourdough baguettes this weekend using the dough I use for SF Sourdough. This has a cold fermentation of the starter and of the formed loaves, but not of the fermented dough, like the Nury rye. (Of course, this plan is subject to change, according to the baker's whim.) It will be fun to compare results, I'm sure.


David

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Just to add another opinion, I looked up Julia Child's very detailed instructions in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking, vol. II." (1970) Recall that she studied with M. Clavel, and her recipe is an adaptation for the home of his teachings.

She does not use a poolish, although she refers to this as an alternative method. She prescribes a short mix, a 4.5-7 hour bulk fermentation with a fold at 3-5 hours and a 1.5-2.5 hour proofing. The big difference is that she insists on a tripling of the dough volume before the fold at 3-5 hours and a tripling of the volume of the loaves during proofing. She says these times and the tripling in volume are necessary to get the big holes in the crumb.

This seems very different from the more common current recommendations. What do you all think?


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I really think the poolish is a must, at least for taste! As for the fermentation, that's pretty long for a room temp condition. I wonder what would happen if the dough was cooled and folded a few times during the cool fermentation... hmmmm.

I have wondered about how much is volume during fermentation/proofing and how much is oven spring. Because I always get lots of spring but the holes aren't huge in my baguettes (but then like I said, I've never made them with T55).

I'm grocery shopping tomorrow and I'm going to pick up some T55. I've started a firm starter for the sourdough baguettes that I'll start tomorrow. I'll start the baguettes probably on a poolish tomorrow evening. I looked on the French bakers site and they had some interesting recipes and one for the baguette tradition. I'll have to examine it this evening.I have a Julia Child book, I'll see if her baguettes are in it.

My day is finished! Have a nice day,

Jane