The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Goofus and Gallant

proth5's picture

Goofus and Gallant

Anyone old enough to remember those guys?

Poor Goofus could never do anything right and Gallant - well, he was just annoying.

Anyway, I just pulled the weekly baguettes from the oven and they reminded me of those guys. In the spirit of learning/teaching I'd like to use poor Goofus to illustrate something.

I've posted a picture here:

I'm not going to do a detailed critique of the numerous, numerous flaws in these baguettes (nor am I really asking for comment other on the topic - I am my own worst critic), but I will focus on their shapes as pulled from the oven.

Gallant - the one on the top- of the picture has some nice symmetry and in general a pleasing shape.

Poor old Goofus has a slash that didn't open well and on the right (your right as you look at the picture) is somewhat scraggly and mis-shapen.  Before I put them in the oven I could have predicted that fate.  How?

My hands, my dough, but on Goofus, I failed to remove sufficient flour from the dough prior to shaping and to completely clear the bench of flour (residual from the loaf and just got a tiny bit sloppy with clearing the bench - it's hot - the oven is at 500F - oh, excuses, excuses...).  When I did the final shaping on Goofus, I had the "ball bearing" effect of the flour - the dough would not roll properly - it slid around on the bench.  I worked at it to get an even shape (This was the only difference in the shaping.  Consistency may be the bugaboo of little minds, but it is what I do best.)but all was lost.  Even though it looked even as I laid it on the couche, it was destined to have a flaw.  Same with the left side.  The extra flour caused an improper seal and you can see a distinct spiral.  It looked ok as dough, but it was destined to bake poorly.  I pulled myself together to shape Gallant.

To avoid having to be sent back to "the place" - I will admit that I did a few things right.  I particularly like Gallant's grigne - which are not seen to best advantage in this shot.

So big problems from little mistakes grow... It pays to pay attention to the details.

Happy Baking!


holds99's picture

Appreciate and enjoyed your light hearted, yet serious critique of your two friends; Goofus and Galant.  Very instructive.  Amen to your statement: "So big problems from little mistakes grow... It pays to pay attention to the details.  If you will indulge me, I would also add the old saying: "The devil is in the details".

Truly enjoy reading your very informative posts.  Please keep them coming.

Howard - St. Augustine, FL

proth5's picture

The way I heard it: "God is in the details"

Odd, that.

Thanks for your kind words.

I am about to go on baking hiatus for Summer because the crops are starting to come in and the canning equipment must come out.  But I am working on some long term experiments and we will see how those work out!

Happy Baking!

Janedo's picture

I understand your perfectinism when you have already arrived at a professional quality level. But,  I would be incredibly pleased to obtain Goofus's great looks. And, as a European citizen, I am a little bothered by uniformity. I love things that are just not quite right.

But this said, I have all your valuable tips ready to put in to use when I attack the next baguettes.

Were these ones made with commercial yeast or sourdough?


proth5's picture

These bad boys are levain based.  I just like the taste...

There is a place for the "not quite right."  But I will comment that poor Goofus' crumb was just a little substandard in the area where the shaping was bad.  Everything counts.

Perfection is a journey, not a destination. 

Happy Baking!