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A Thicker Crusted Baguette? - Help wanted

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BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

A Thicker Crusted Baguette? - Help wanted

Hello Fellow Bread Bakers,

I've seen some great looking bread on here. This is a great site. I really enjoy the challenge of bread baking and knead all my bread by hand. I think I always will. Not only is it really fun and my favorite part, but great exercise.

I am in search of the best homemade Baguette. True artisan style. I am longing for the kind of taste and texture you would get if you bought a warm fresh loaf in a Paris bakery, or at least as close as I can get. 

I have been experimenting and learning more and more about the personality bread has.
I am interested in getting a thicker crust on my baguette. About half an inch if possible. I also would appreciate any help on getting the large irregular holes a true baguette should have.
Professional "Tried and True" methods are preferred, but if any of you have experience in this area, your help would be appreciated.

My view of the perfect Baguette:

  1. Half inch thick crisp crust
  2. Golden brown
  3. Network of large irregular holes
  4. Soft crumb
  5. A great strong sourdough taste

Thank you in advance, for any help you can give, BaguetteQuest

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Hi,

Welcome to TFL. You might want to look at recent posts regarding baguettes. There are some good experts and recipes. Some of us are really trying for a great baguette (even though it's far from our favorite bread). It's a technique thing.

1/2 inch for a crust is an odd desire. Why would you want it thick like that? I've never seen a baguette crust that thick.

Why sourdough taste? Do you want a sourdough baguette? A regular baguette doesn't have a sourdough taste. You'll find recipes for both here.

The rest is what we are looking for, too!

Hope you find some answers,

Jane 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Hello BaguetteQuest.

1. The longer your bread stays in the oven, and the higher the temperature of the oven the deeper your crust is going to be. So you will essentially play with time and temperature to arrive at the level of crust you desire. A note, the deeper the crust the dryer will the crumb become.

2. Golden brown crust depends on two things. The presence of sugar in the dough and the temperature being high enough in the oven to caramelize that sugar. In the sourdough the sugar is developed by the yeast. Whereas in the straight dough like most baguette recipes the sugar is added directly to the dough.

3. Here's where a small problem will come into play for you. Over the years I have enjoyed the therapy on kneeding my doughs. However, as I tried to expand my breadbaking experience I came to realize that large irregular holes come from breads that have a very high hydration rates. And being so wet they are impossible to knead, all you can do is fold them and hope to develop the structure of the bread that way.

4. This is the opposite of your desire in point 1. :)

5. As Jane has already mentioned, the predominant number of baguette recipes are using the straight dough technique. So they generally don't have a sourdough flavor, but are rather sweet and nutty. A characteristic evident of dominance of yeast over acid in the dough. Of course, it doesn't mean you can't make it your own and make sourdough baguette using the sourdough technique. If you do end up going with the straight dough, and want a little more complexity, you may want to consider letting the poolish ferment for a longer period of time than what the recipe calls for. Perhaps 24 upto 48 hours or something like that.

Another great advice from Jane was to look at recent threads on baguette on this very forum. As they talk about popular baguette recipes. One is available for free on the King Arthurs web site. Others are found in books that are well liked around here.

Last thing I wanted to toss out there is, that you may want to consider making demi-baguettes as they tend to offer a higher ratio of crust per crumb. To make a demi from a full baguette, you would simply use half the amount of dough that the recipe requires for shaping, and shape it to be half as thick while retaining the same length.

Good Luck, and of course keep us posted on your progress.

Rudy

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

Hello Jane and Rudy,

Thank you both for your replies. I'm sure they will prove helpful.
I realize that I didn't explain what I meant very clearly. Please excuse me for that.
I will try to explain myself better.

My list, was just a personal preference. What I think would make a good baguette.
But I misunderstood. I thought that sourdough was used more often in baguettes. Thank you for correcting me on that.
I started baking with sourdough about a year ago. That's when I got interested in baguettes. (They has since become one of my favorite breads.) It seems that there are not a lot of baguette enthusiests here, but will be researching and trying out other bread recipes as well. As I am trying to become an artisan bread baker.

I don't expect everyone on here to agree to one set rule of elements that make good bread, and obviously they don't. But that can make bread baking pretty exciting.
I also realized that my half inch crust did sound odd. I exaggerated a bit.
What I meant was more like 1/4". The layers of the crust going deep. getting softer as they go inward toward the crumb. Not hard all the way through. Just crackely and crispy on the outside. But maybe that's not the crust of a traditional baguette.
Sorry if that was confusing.

Jane,

Yes, I am interested in  sourdough baguettes, as well as plain. I really love a strong sourdough flavor. But once again, it must not be traditional.
Thanks for the quick answering and advice. I will look at more recipes on here.

Rudy,

Thank you for the detailed answers to my list. I was'nt even expecting an answer to that, but you have been very helpful. I will definitly try those ideas.
As for kneading bread, I guess I'll have to confine that to others types. I have noticed that baguette recipes usually don't call for much kneading. I'm actually trying the "Classic Baguettes" recipe today, that I found here. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Looking forward to learning more. Thanks again for the answers.

BaguetteQuest

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, BaguetteQuest.

What you are describing is good San Francisco-style sourdough, but shaped as baguettes rather than boules or batards. This is very different from a traditional Parisian baguette, as has been said, but is still a great bread.

I have a bit of experience pursuing the goal you stated. Here's an example:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7779/baguettes-made-sf-sourdough-dough

My advice is to start with a recipe that makes a sourdough bread you like, but divide the dough into 9-11 oz pieces and shape them as baguettes. With long, thin loaves, the baking time will be shorter than usual, of course - probably around 20 minutes. But use whatever oven temperature, steaming and other techniques that have given you good results. Then, if they don't turn out the way you want them, let us help you problem-solve.

One warning: Shaping baguettes well - both getting the shape you want and maintaining an open crumb is a challenge. Do read the recent blog entries on baguettes. There are lots of suggestions. But there is no substitute for hands on experience. I have a freezer full of "almost right" baguettes. I'm still working on my shaping technique, too.


David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

David,

I received Bread! I'm really excited because it looks so interesting. More bread to bake! I also was thinking about baguettes while I was cleaning today and I think I'm going to launch a great baguette quest on my blog. Try and get a bunch of Frenchies to bake baguettes and see if they manage to get HOLES.

Jane 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Jane.

I'm glad you received your copy of "Bread." It is a very information-dense book. I find new things to consider every time I read the introductory materials and the side bars.

I've only baked a few of his breads, mostly because the first ones I baked were so good I kept making them over and over rather than trying new ones. So, understanding that my own exploration of Hamelman's book has been limited, my two favorites have been the Miche, Point-a-Calliere and the Multi-grain Levain. I really think you would find the latter an extraordinary bread. See:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5218/hamelman039s-multigrain-levain

But also see the follow-up:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/5788/hamelman039s-multigrain-levain-third-time039s-charm

I would be making this bread all the time, if it were as easy as the Nury Light Rye to fit into my work schedule.

I look forward to seeing your Blog audience's baguettes!


David

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

David,

Thank you for the suggestions. I'll have to try them. I'll also check out your post.
I think It's great when people experiment in baking. I know I like to. Of course those who experiment do make quite a few mistakes, when trying something that wasn't a good idea, but you can't always know until you try it. 
And sometimes, we hit on something that does turn out, and then we get excited, and experiment some more. :)

Hope you're successful in your shaping.

Thanks again!

Sarah- aka- BaguetteQuest

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

Now I should mention that a Sourdough Baguette is not a completely foreign concept. In an Bread episode of "Gourmet Diary of a Foodie" that airs on PBS, here in US. They were highlighting a baker in Paris that was using sourdough starter only to leaven his dough. In fact they showed how starter was being added to the dough at the end of the autolyze stage. :) If you get a chance to see that show, it is highly recommended as the entire show is dedicated to sourdough method of producing bread. They managed to cover US, Italy and France. So clearly it can be done, what I wanted to highlight was that the folks who are doing it are at this point a tiny minority. Which isn't a bad thing. It's just that you'll be on the cutting edge of the industry if you do this. :) And will not have many recipes to fall back to for guidance.

As for baguettes and this board, I dunno that I agree with you that there isn't an interest in them. Baguette is a wonderful bread and over the years I've baked it a lot, but always as a straight dough. Now that I'm getting a handle on my sourdough technique, I'll be sure to revisit my old faithful friend.

The other nice thing that I've discovered about sourdough is that it can be made to mimic the flavor of commercial yeast, whereas using commercial yeast it is very difficult to achieve certain flavors that sourdough can achieve. Also the sourdough dough doesn't seem to deflate as quickly and easily when handled as straight dough does. At least it seems that way to me.

Rudy

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

 Rudy,

Thanks for filling me in.
"As for baguettes and this board, I dunno that I agree with you that there isn't an interest in them."
I guess I misunderstood Jane's statement about it being far from the favorite bread around here. As I've looked around this site, I've noticed more and more on sourdough baking. Well, I'm glad to see that I'm not alone. It's nice to be able to exchange tips and things. I'll be looking into many other breads too.
I'll try and watch that episode you told me about. 
It'll be fun trying both straight and sourdough baguettes.

Sarah

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Sorry for the confusion!

What I meant was that the baguette, classic, yeast poolish baguette is not a favorite in the sense that there are such wonderful breads, sourdoughs, etc, that the simple baguette is not the BEST though it is still yummy.

This said, it is one of the hardest to do and so as bread bakers, if we can't make a great baguette, there is something very important missing from our repertoire. See what I mean?

But I can say, personally, that I enjoy a fresh baguette, but I LOVE that Nury's rye!!!!! :-)

Jane 

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

That's ok Jane, I understand now.
I'm hoping to learn how to make a boule. They'd probably make good sandwiches.
I'll have to wait for a day that's not too hot to turn on the oven. Or bake in the morning. :) 

Just a quick question: Is there a certain way to pronounce Boule, Batard, or Levain, in french? I have only barely scratched the surface in french, and I was just wondering, it seems like there are some silent letters in one or two of those words.

Thank you.

-Sarah

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Bool, Bata (but the r is there in a French way, the back of the tongue touches the roof of your mouth, no d though) levain is pronounced like "vin" in french at the end, so no n. That makes le + vin.

Jane 

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

Merci Madame, for taking the time to pronunciate those words for me.

Sarah

Janedo's picture
Janedo

 

I will be trying this recipe very shortly. His baguettes are gorgeous.

"My baguettes are levain based.  But you could use a poolish instead of the levain build.  My starter is at 100% hydration.

This is for two loaves at a finished weight of 10.5 oz each

.75 oz starter

1.12 oz flour

1.12 oz water 

Mix and let ripen (8-10 hours) 

Bread

All of the levain build

10.95 oz all purpose flour

.25 oz salt

6.6 oz water 

Dough temperature 76F 

Mix to shaggy mass (Yes! Put the preferment in the autolyse!) – let rest 30 mins

Fold with plastic scraper  (30 strokes) – repeat 3 more times at 30 min intervals 

Bulk ferment at 76F for 1.5 hours – fold

Bulk ferment at 76F 2 hours

Preshape lightly but firmly, rest 15 mins

Shape.  Proof 1 hour or so

Slash

Bake with steam at 500F for about 20 mins

As you can see, simple in the extreme (he, he, he...)"

Jane 

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

I told you guys I'd let you know how the "Classic Baguettes" turned out. Well, as far as looks, not too good. They were rather deflated looking. But as far as taste, my family really liked them. We almost satisfied our taste for how sour they should be. They actually had a good tange to them. And the crust was nice and crispy.
I recently used up most of my starter, down to about half a cup. It started out slightly sour, then went almost dormant. But I built it back up about a week and a half or so ago, and yesterday is the first time I've baked with it since. By the way it tastes, I think it should be ok now.  

-Sarah

Tacomagic's picture
Tacomagic

I wish you luck in your quest for baguettes, both sour and straight.

I think learning (if you don't know already anyway) how to do the french folding technique would be beneficial towards this paticular venture.  I find that for the soft crumbs you're looking for, you'll neccisarily be using slacker doughs. 

Kneading slack doughs is possible, but messy and wraught with trouble.  In cases where I'm using slack doughs (most of my doughs are pretty slack anymore) I tend to favor the French folding technique.  If you do a search on TFL, you'll find a few videos on this technique, and once you've used it on slack dough, you may not go back to kneading.

Also I've noticed that using the folding technique over kneading tends to produce a much stronger end result, and you may see less of the deflating you saw with your last batch... this is of course assuming that the deflating was related to low surface tension, which is either a problem with shaping or the dough being too slack.

And don't worry about not getting a work out, doing an entire french fold can almost be more exercise than a straight knead.

If I remember correctly, there was a really good video somewhere by Julia Childs where Danielle Forester came in and made batards.  It's a very good video to learn both the french fold, and some shaping methods if you can find it.  I don't do nearly as many folds as she says she does (~800-850!).  I actually do about 5 minutes worth, take a rest for a bit (5-10 minutes), then another 10 minutes worth.  All told I probably only do around 2-300 folds (I've never actually counted, so I really have no idea).

It's very possible that you know all this already, and if so, sorry for being redundant.

Cheers,
Taco

Confusion is a state of mind... or is it?

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

Actually, I saw that video. It was a good one. I really like the Julia Child episodes, on the PBS site. I like watching cooking and baking videos. But they make you hungry! :) I kinda gasped when I heard her say 800-850.
I'll try to learn more about the french fold.

That wasn't redundant even if it is a repetition, it's good to review things.

I'm not confused...wait, maybe I am.

-Sarah

BaguetteQuest's picture
BaguetteQuest

Sorry, didn't mean to post that twice, maybe I am confused!

Tacomagic's picture
Tacomagic

Oh and a word of warning before you start getting into the french fold.  Be careful!  I was a little over-exuberent with some of my earlier attempts, and I ended up tossing a ball of dough at my wall when I lost hold of it.  I'm rather glad I had a wall in front of me actually... had I been folding on an island, my dough would have landed in the living room.

Since then I've used less flour on my hands when doing the french fold... and tried to keep myself calm as well.

Cheers,
Taco

Confusion is a state of mind... or is it?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Taco.

An instructional video would be helpful. I'm looking forward to learning from your technique. ;-)


David

Paddyscake's picture
Paddyscake

Taco..you sure it wasn't because of the Wild Turkey in your previous post about bitter starter?  ;  )

Tacomagic's picture
Tacomagic

Ok, you'll need 1 litre of wild turkey, and some dough...

I honestly can't remember what comes after that =P.

 

Confusion is a state of mind... or is it?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The recipe demonstrated in this classic instructional video could be easily adapted.

http://www.skideezie.com/movies/SD.mov


David

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

I collected some of the video links in my recent blog post plus a few thoughts of my own on the french fold based on my experience with it.

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7861/french-fold-technique-thoughts

If you want a very 'holey' /uneven baguette crumb you actually don't need to go the full 600 folds. A combination of moderate gluten development during folding/kneading/mixing and periodic stretch and folds during the buik ferment will go a long way to getting an open 'rustic' crumb.  Suas explains this at length in Advanced Bread and Pastry (short, improved and intensive mix).

 I've mostly been working with sourdough recently and the longer ferment actually allows the gluten to develop slowly without the need for much work from me. That said, I find it therapeutic (and good practice) to go all the way with the french fold and develop as much gluten structure as I can before bulk ferment...but that's just me.

Here's an article by Dan Lepard (author of "The Handmade Loaf")with his thoughts about 'the perfect baguette':

http://www.danlepard.com/content/pages/baguette.htm

FP 

KosherBaker's picture
KosherBaker

OK so let me ask you guys Taco and FP this question. Can a dough with 70% hydration ever come to look and feel the way Bertinet's dough looks when he is done French Folding his dough?

Rudy

foolishpoolish's picture
foolishpoolish

 Hmmm...if the question is whether you can get a smooth well developed 70% hydration dough from french fold then the answer is yes (depending of course on the flour).

If you're using whole grain flour, I'd recommend using a soaker or a long autolyse for some or all of the flour.  

For whatever reason, if you find the dough too slack to handle  then you might be better off aiming for moderate gluten development with the french fold and applying several stretch and folds over the course of bulk fermentation - at least that would be how I would approach it.

Hope that helps

FP