The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Trouble with Alpine Baguettes

Windischgirl's picture

Trouble with Alpine Baguettes

Bear with me here, I am trying to recall details of the recipe by memory, as I don't have the book here...

I recently made this bread (Leader's Alpine Baguettes from Local Breads) and think the hydration is off.

The bread starts with about 3.5 oz of a rye starter and a 5 oz soaker of mixed seeds/nuts (oats, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, millet, sesame, etc). 17.6 oz bread flour, 18.5 oz water, divided...some of it into the soaker the night before and the rest into the dough the next day.

As you can see, water is at 105%...the result was a "batter" into which I had to knead additional flour in order to make anything approaching a dough. End result was fine, but frustrating as it took longer to get to the final product...and nothing else got done that day!

So my questions are:

(1) has anyone else had trouble with this recipe?

(2) what would be a good hydration level to aim towards? I was thinking in the 70-80% range, but want your input. I'm guessing that the hydration might need to be a little on the high side given the soaker, but 105% is clearly a typo.



Philly PA

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Windi.

I have not made this bread, and I don't have my book with me either. That said, you cannot judge the expected texture from the over-all hydration percentage when you use a soaker like that. The seeds absorb a lot of water, which makes for a very moist crumb. Assuming you measured everything correctly, and assuming this recipe doesn't have an error (which some of Leader's formulas do have), I would guess the problem is with the gluten development in this wet dough. If my assumptions are correct, you should not have had to add much, if any, flour.

How did you mix it?


Windischgirl's picture

Maybe my measurements were off, and I must admit I was too lazy to go to the basement to get the flax seed, so I substituted sesame and millet (plus the other goodies he suggests).  Granted, the flax would absorb a fair bit of water.  The soaker was nicely moist but with about 1/4 excess water.  it still seems quite off given it would have been 1 oz flaxseed vs. 1 oz millet...we are not talking great quantities here.

I mixed it in my KAM for the directed time and still had "batter".  Ended up adding about another 1/2 c and mixing it in, giving it a rest period of about 20-30 min (so I could actually try to do something else, like laundry!) which I know is not the typical autolyse.  No real change, still soupier than a ciabatta dough.  Scraped it onto a floured bread board and kneaded in flour to form a soft idea how much.  Once I did this, I had nice gluten and a beautiful bulk ferment.

The end product was tasty and we devoured it.  But it was an all-day process.  If only real life didn't get in the way...



Philadelphia PA

dmsnyder's picture

Flax seeds absorb a ton of water. They turn into an almost solid, gelatinous glop. I don't think sesame seeds absorb much water. If you ended up with unabsorbed water in your soaker, I think you have identified the source of your problem.


spear394's picture

I made the Alpine baguettes and they turned out wonderful. It is a very wet dough but used the stand mixer and lots of flour when shaping the baguettes. I followed the recipe except added 2 teaspoons of salt. This was a very tasty baguette.

nbicomputers's picture

i don't have that book but from  what i have read here it has more mistakes thanany other book published. i don't think i would trust anythiny in there. 

look here

 do you need somthing to keep your door open while you bake?  use the book!!!

fsu1mikeg's picture

I finally tried this formula today and encountered the same problems as Windishgirl.  As I was mixing and noticing how soupy this dough was, I immediately hopped on TFL to look for posts that might've covered this bread and any related issues.  This is the only one I could find that made mention of the hydration issues.  I checked some non-TFL sites that mentioned the bread and none had any issues with Leader's formula.  I followed his instructions to a T and only added a couple of tablespoons of flour (actually I use a coffee scoop).  The dough was still extremely sticky and slack after bulk fermentation for about 90 minutes.  He calls for 2-2 1/2 hrs, but mine had already doubled.  It's hot in Atlanta, although we've got the AC set around 78-80F.  I had a devil of a time dividing and shaping this slack dough.  I made a rough baguette/batard shape and let it proof on the parchment for about half an hour.  The doughs spread til they were touching each other, and the loosely covered plastic wrap still stuck to the dough.  I slid it into the oven anyway.  About 6 minutes in I checked and they had risen pretty well.  I took the opportunity at this time to quickly do some surgery with a chef's nice to separate the three loaves.  But man, I hope somebody can explain if this is an error in Leader's percentages (I know there are many, but hadn't heard of one for this formula), or if I just need to do a better job handling this type of slack dough.

bpezzell's picture

Having encountered all the formula errors in other recipes in this book, I tackled it anyway. It was an incredibly soupy mess. I mixed according to directions, but during the rise I did multiple stretch and folds (with the help of a wallpaper paste spreader!) It was difficult to work with, but the end product was nice and tasty.

Having made it his way, I will now do it mine. :)