The Fresh Loaf

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Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes

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dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes

Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente


Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente


Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente crumb


Hamelman's Poolish Baguettes with pate fermente crumb 

 

These baguettes were made with Hamelman's formula for Poolish Baguettes in "Bread." I used Guisto's Baker's Choice flour for the poolish and the final dough. I made a half recipe. My only modification in ingredients was to throw in about 4 oz of pate fermente - dough left over from the last batch of baguettes I made a couple of days ago.

I also modified Hamelman's baking method in that I preheated the oven to 500F. After loading the loaves and pouring boiling water in the skillet, I turned the oven down to 460F. I baked 20 minutes then left the loaves in the turned off oven with the door ajar for 10 minutes more. (See my previous blog entry for details of Hamelman's method of steaming the oven.)

I got satisfactory oven spring, but it might have been better if I had baked 15 minutes sooner. As it was, these proofed for about 60 minutes. I wonder if the cuts would have opened up more also.

Other than the paltry bloom, these were the best (traditional) baguettes I've made to date. They "sang" while cooling. The crust was perfectly crackly, which thrilled me. The crumb was more open than most baguettes I've made. Not as open as I'd have liked, but I'm getting there. The taste was as good as any baguette I've tasted. I wonder if the pate fermente, as little as it was, added a depth of flavor.

I think I am going to stick with this formula for a while. I'm going to stick with this oven temperature and steaming method. I expect to try different flours and tweak the hydration level and the proofing some.

Now, I've got to go deal with 7 freshly baked baguettes.

David

Comments

proth5's picture
proth5

I do have a passing familiarity with Mr. Hamelman's formula.  Here are some things I would consider about it (bearing in mind that Mr. Hamelman is right.)

  • I've not been as successful as I like with the high amount of flour in the preferment.  Pulling it down a bit really changed things for me.
  • The amount of yeast can be reduced to good result.  Loaves take longer to rise - but they work out better for me.

Some other things to bear in mind as you make these:

  • Dough temperature, dough temperature, dough temperature
  • Pre-shape and shape  - "An iron hand in a velvet glove" - you may wish to try side by side comparisons of less forcefull and more forcefull pre-shaping to see what works best. 
  • Flour your hands not the bench when shaping (admittedly in my arid climate this works better than in more humid climates...I rubbed a little flour into my couche a couple years ago and haven't had any stickage since)
  • OK, I'll give you a valuable quote "How will your dough have enough strength if you don't put a little muscle into the shaping?"  Just think about it.
  • When doing the final shaping think "down and out" and "iron hand in velvet glove." Also you may wish to make sure that you wrists and fingertips are always in contact with the bench.  I have found that to be crucial. Even in humid climates there should be no flour on the bench during this final step.  Flour you hands if you must, but not the bench. 
  • Focus on symetry at every step of shaping.  This really pays off.
  • As for slashing - "Mental mise en place." That doesn't seem helpful at first, but it is.
  • And my final "helpful" quote: "How can I tell you what went wrong?  Every step - every step must be perfect if you want a good result."  Helped me.  Eventually.

Lovely bread.

Happy baking!

Pat

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Much to consider.

I'd appreciate your further thoughts on variables that I'm still wrestling with understanding.

Regarding mixing: Good gluten development is important, but this can be accomplished by more complete mixing or by less mixing but folding periodically during fermentation. My impression is that the first method results in a denser, more uniform, less open crumb, so the second is preferable for baguettes.

Regarding shaping: I have the impression that the prefered technique would develop a good gluten "skin" through folding that stretches the surface, but not pressing down hard on the dough to squish the bubbles needed for an open crumb. I'm still working on this.

I take it that keeping the heel of the hand and the finger tips on the counter is a way of assuring light, even pressure in rolling out the baguettes. Right?

I think flouring the bench depends on the bench and how sticky the dough is. You want friction on the dough, but you don't want the dough to actually stick to the bench enough to distort the loaf. Please tell me if I'm missing your point.

Regarding scoring: When I've done best is when I have really focused on what I'm doing but also done it quickly. The problem with these baguettes was they seemed somewhat over-proofed and maybe a tad more hydrated than ideal. The dough tended to stick to the lame, even with fast strokes and a wetted lame.

I really appreciate your comments. This dialogue is very helpful.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

(As I am able to provide answers)

I don't use a mixer for most bread anymore.  The technique that I use of doing folds with a plastic scraper at intervals of 30 mins (4 times for baguettes) and folding during bulk fermentation (1 fold for baguettes) is just such a nice method for me, that unless I am doing bagels or am in a terrible rush I just don't need the noise and bother of a mixer.  Try it some time. 

Shaping - "Iron hand in velvet glove" - firm, but gentle.  Do I end up deflating some gas bubbles? Yes, I do.  Do they come back?  They seem to.  This is an area where I did a lot of thinking (on the very quote I shared with you)and practicing until I found my balance for my hands and my dough. It is most instructive to try different shaping variations on baguettes from the same batch of dough.  Deliberately pat one baguette more forcefully - be absurdly gentle with another.  Bake and compare. 

I like your reasoning for the fingertips and heel of the hand on the bench.  I do it because I was corrected often enough that I just decided to make it a habit.  And it worked - so I stuck with it.  It is very important and is not obvious from the drawings in the book from which you got this formula.

When you are rolling the final baguette shape you want no flour on the bench - I mean, don't wash the bench, but do scrape away all visible flour from the work area.  The flour acts like little ball bearings and makes your rolling much more difficult.  By this point in the shaping you should have "a light sheen" of flour on the bread (yeah, what's that?  A light sheen.  You will know it when you see it.)  If you must, flour your hands - not the bench - and flour them  by rubbing them on a lightly floured portion of the bench.  A lot of what I say is abstract (and I kinda mean it to be since that was how I was taught) but this is not.  No flour on the bench for the final rolling of the baguettes.  The difference in how the shaping will progress is profound.  If you are still having stickage at this point in the shaping process, all is lost.  Every step must be perfect if you are to get good results. (And there is a huge story behind that quote that like the story of the Matilda Briggs and the giant rat of Sumatra - is a story for which the world is not yet prepared.)

I never wet the lame.  Slashing is my weak point, but I am finding that the angle at which I hold the thing is what is key.  If you have the book "Le Gout du Pain" by Professor Clavel there is one photograph of him slashing a baguette.  Drink it in deeply.  It is a revelation.  Mental mise en place.  Really.

Glad to be of any help - if indeed some of this stuff is helpful. 

Happy baking!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I suppose I'll know how helpful your answers were after I digest them and try it out. In any case, I do appreciate you offering your insights.

The most striking statement you made (pre-digestion) is, "If you are still having stickage at this point in the shaping process, all is lost."

Now, I've been kneading on a marble slab lately. Assuming your statement applies, my dough has been consistantly too sticky. Okay. I can fix that. I have been erring on the wet side, hoping that would yield the more open crumb I'm after.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

If you are pushing the hydration of the dough to the point where you need flour on that final roll, you may wish to consider that you may have pushed too far.  I've had the opportunity to be minutely supervised while working with various types of baguette doughs (not just those prepared by me, but by well qualified teachers) and - no flour on the bench. No stickage either.

Another thing I just remembered is that with the higher hydration doughs (and this is really extreme stuff) you may wish to preshape in more of an oblong shape rather than a round shape.  I don't do the exteme doughs (I'm running - what - 65% hydration?) often enough but I seem to recall doing the basic baguette shape prior to the "thumb folds" - letting that rest - then doing the "thumb folds" and rolling the baguette.  But still no flour on the bench (for the final rolling - yes, flour on the bench for the other steps).  A little extra flour on the couche, though.

I'm not a fan of the marble slab for bread.  But once again, that is my dough and my hands.  I like to work on wood for bread and keep the cold stones for confectionary work.  I roll a mean pie crust and am able to do that on wood.  But, once again, my dough, my hands.  We are all different.

Hope this helps.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I've been using the marble slab experimentally for the last month. Before that, I was using a large Silpat mat. Before that, a largish wooden board. My kitchen counters are tile, so that's out.

I may just spring for the $80 or so for a large wooden pastry board at WS, but I don't know where I'd keep it when it was not in use. I'll go back to the butcher block cutting board first, I suppose.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

Don't be spending money on my advice... My dough, my hands way different than your dough, your hands.  If you like the marble slab or the Silpat  stay with it...

holds99's picture
holds99

You may already know about the Tavolini...and I'm not suggesting you buy one, I'm just sending this along FYI.  I have a Tavolini that I have been using off and on for years and it works very well.  Having said that, I have, of late, been using the courntertop (formica) but after reading the exchange between Proth and yourself I am going back to using the Tavolini and see if my shaping gets any better and/or easier. 

I think I may have bought it at Williams Sonoma.  Anyway, it has wooden strips on each side that act to hold it in place against the edge of the counter and they also, when either side is up, act as short, 1 inch backboards.  I store mine in a large plastic bag in the cardboard box it came in, beside the clothes dryer in the laundry room.  I was going to post a picture of mine but here's a site with a photo showing the Tavolini. I have NEVER used mine for chopping of cutting vegetables or cutting anything else, for that matter.  The "pitch" or claim in the ad is that you can use one side for chopping vegetables and the other side for bread and pastry dough.  I wouldn't be able to remember which side was used for what so I use it only for bread dough.  I've never done pastry dough on it.

Edit: P.S. I have the large size (22" X 29") covers the counter depth and is large enough to work unconstrained by the size of the surface.

http://www.netixchange.com/Counter-Cutting-Boards-p-16250.html

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

Janedo's picture
Janedo

OK, that's all pretty darn technical! I think I'd need a real class room situation to really be able to put in it all in to practice. And definitely NO kids around.

But I'll give Proths' recipe a go when I get it in grams and do it with yeast.

Interesting stuff, thanks!

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jane.

I am going to take a class (or two) at the SFBI one of these days. I agree that seeing and feeling the dough with instruction would make this all more meaningful. In the meantime, we do the best we can.


David

proth5's picture
proth5

I would have to say that I have felt some frustration working with my teachers.  Why can't they just tell me what to do!?  Why can't they just provide answers instead of more questions!?  Why does one of them (if you are out there - you know who you are...) give me crazy homework assignments that cause me to do months and months of work!?  Why do they say goofy things like "mental mise en place"!?   Just tell me how to use the @*%$ lame, would you!!

And then when I try to communicate what I have learned I do the same darned things because, well, I realize that no matter what I say it is still my dough, my hands and there is nothing I can do to convey it to others other than metaphor.

I was teaching some folks to make candy and when I said "iron hand in velvet glove" (darn it, it sounds so trite - but once you get the feeling memorized by your muscles it is just so right!) I knew I had crossed some odd line.

So a class at SFBI would be an enormous help - hands on is always best.  A good class with a great teacher is a tremendous thing.

But be prepared for what you might find.

Happy Baking!

Pat

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Americans are the experts on group classed for learning things. If I wanted to take a class, I have no idea where I could possibly do that outside of the curriculum for becoming a real "boulanger" or in some posh place in Paris.

Well, I think I'll wait until I'm retired and could do as you say, Pat, hours and hours of work. For now there is NO way!!! I'm in that place between the bread machine bakers and the true experts. I make some pretty darn good bread, but am definitely not a master and always learning at a nice, slow pace. THIS sorum is my classroom for now.

So, thank you my professors! 

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Well! You just have to come to the U.S. to learn how to bake French bread! Hmmm .... Better to do it soon, while the Euro is so strong relative to the dollar.


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Ha ha ha! Yep, that's the solution! I'll bring my own flour, though. :-)

But, hélas, it's even a miracle that I'm getting four days in Paris. I haven't even been back to Vancouver in over five years!!

Jane 

MaryinHammondsport's picture
MaryinHammondsport

Oh, nuts! If I had the proverbial nickel for all the great pieces of stuff that my folks had that have since been thrown or given away . . . Come to think of it, I'd rather have some of the stuff -- my mother's bread board, for example.

I have been looking sideway at an old drawing board that's behind the door here in the office. That, C-clamped to the kitchen table, might be the right height for me and very useful for baking. More useful than sitting behind the door, anyhow. Think I will give it a try! It will ruin it for use as a drawing board, but since I haven't used it in at least 15 years, that's not a big deal. I'll use it on my next loaf and comment then.

Mary