The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Ficelles made with Anis Bouabsa's baguette formula

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Ficelles made with Anis Bouabsa's baguette formula

 

 

  • Flour500 gms Giusto's Baker's Choice
  • Water375 gms
  • Yeast1/4 tsp Instant
  • Salt10 gms
  1. Mix flour and water and autolyse for 20 minutes.
  2. Add yeast and mix by folding dough in the bowl.
  3. Add salt and mix by folding dough in the bowl.
  4. Mix dough by folding and stretching in the bowl for 20 strokes. Repeat this 3 more times at 20 minute intervals.
  5. Refrigerate dough, covered tightly, for 21 hours.
  6. Divide into 4 equal parts and preshape gently for baguettes.
  7. Allow preshaped pieces to rest, covered with plastic, for 1 hour.
  8. Shape into ficelles (short, thin baguettes).
  9. Proof en couche or on parchment paper dusted with semolina for 45 minutes.
  10. Pre-heat oven to 500F with baking stone in middle rack and a cast iron skillet and a metal loaf pan on the lowest rack. Preheat 45 minutes or longer before baking.
  11. 3-5 minutes before baking, place a handful of ice cubes in the loaf pan. Shut the oven door. Bring water to a boil.
  12. Transfer the ficelles to a peel and load them onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of boiling water into the skillet. Close the oven door.
  13. Turn the oven down to 480F.
  14. After 10 minutes, remove the loaf pan and the skillet from the oven.
  15. Continue baking for another 10-15 minutes until the loaves are nicely colored, the crust is hard all around and the bottom gives a hollow sound when tapped. Internal temperature should be at least 205F.
  16. Cool on a rack completely before slicing.
Anis Bouabsa is a young Parisian boulanger who won the prize for the best baguettes in Paris in 2008. He gave Janedo, a French home baker extraordinaire and a member of TFL, his formula, and Jane shared it with us. He uses a technique of a long, cold fermentation which has been used, with variations, by a number of contemporary French bakers.In addition to producing wonderfully flavored bread, it also permits the home baker to make bread using two blocks of about 2-3 hours rather than requiring longer time blocks. For example, I mixed the dough yesterday evening after dinner. I took it out of the refrigerator at about 4:30 pm this afternoon, and we ate it with dinner at 7:30 pm.These ficelles sang loudly coming out of the oven. I cooled them for only 20-30 minutes. The crust was very crunchy, and the crumb had a sweetness that would make one think there was sugar in the dough. Very yummy.Variations on Bouabsa's formula, adding 100 gms of sourdough starter and substituting 10% rye or whole wheat flour for an equal amount of white flour, make a delicious pain de campagne, which has become a favorite bread of several of us.This is described in my blog entries under "Pain de Campagne" and "San Joaquin Sourdough."Enjoy!David

 

Comments

hansjoakim's picture
hansjoakim

Handsome ficelles!

Great oven spring too, David! Did you slash them in one stroke from end to end, or did several cuts burst open together? Lovely colour. Do you stretch them into shape, or do you roll them?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Thanks, hansjoakim!

The ficelles were shaped using the traditional technique for baguettes. I slashed them with one long stroke. I thought it would work better given how thin they were.

David

chuppy's picture
chuppy

David,

 

Giusto's Baker's Choice is a type that I do not have access to. I primarily use any thing KA because of its accessibility in the supermarkets. I live in Indiana so certain flours do not make thier way here. Can I use a KA product that is close to the Giusto's?

Many thanks,

Chuppy

P.S. Have you ever worked in a proffessional bakery or just a home artisan?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Chuppy.

Giusto's Baker's Choice has 11.0-11.5% protein. KAF AP flour is 11.7% protein. That's probably a reasonable substitute, but it's likely other brands of AP flour have lower protein/gluten.

No, I've never worked in any part of the food industry. What do you mean "JUST a home artisan?" ;-)

David

chuppy's picture
chuppy

David,

So your saying that I could continue to use KA on a regular basis? I do like the quality of flour that is milled by KA. Once again we are limited to what we can purchase in the grocery.

What I meant by "Just" a home artisan, is have you practiced your skills by only baking at home. By the looks of your loves, you seem to have a professional touch to what you do. The pics of the ficelles are absolutely amazing to look at. I only wish I could produce such baked goods. Hopefully, with the help of others on The Fresh Loaf, I can begin trying to replicate what others like yourself have been doing for quite some time.

From my understanding, the bakers method of measuring ingrediants by percentage is a very fluent langauge and one that is importanat to understand the basics of bread baking in general.

Thank you for your reply,

Best regards,

Chuppy

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Chuppy.

You are going to find differences in how flours behave day to day depending on the batch of grain, ambient humidity and temperature, etc.

You can substitute flours, but it will have consequences in how the dough behaves and feels. With experience, you will come to connect how the dough acts with how the bread turns out. We can talk in generalities about this, but there really is no substitute for (literally) hands-on experience.

I am a home baker. I've never even taken a class. In fact, I've never even worked face-to-face with another bread baker. Yet, I can't believe how much better my breads have become since I started hanging out on TFL. I just checked. It's only been 15 months. Un-freaking-believable!

Now, I wasn't just hanging out. I was asking questions like crazy. I was seriously surfing old topics. I was venting my frustration when something wasn't working for me. I was reading lots of the recommended books. I was getting a LOT of help and encouragement from the more experienced bakers here who were producing loaves I could only dream about making some day. And - whatdoyouknow! My breads got better!

Nothing magic about it. Just plain old persistance and a pinch of perfectionism and a passion for challenges, not to mention a passion for great bread.

I've seen many others travel this road and arrive at breads that make you jump for joy when you take them out of your oven. It's a great trip! Enjoy it.

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

David,

Nice to see you... and your bread! They look lovely. I don't drink café au lait anymore except on a rare occasion as a treat, but one of my very favorite breakfasts is a BIG café au lait with ficelles like yours spread with butter and jam. Absolutely heaven! Add to that sitting at an outdoor café on the edge of the beach in a town called Collioure:

http://www.collioure.com/gb/index-gb.htm

I have been playing around with baguette recipes, but these remain my favorite.

Jane

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Nice to see you, too!

Je suis d'accord! I had half a ficelle, cut end to end with butter and homemade strawberry jam for breakfast. No café au lait, though - just a pot of very delicious Kenyan coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in Portland.

And no outdoor café nor beach, either. <sigh>

David

james9's picture
james9

hi, tried your recipe to the letter, yesterday / today, except i doubled the quantity.
results dissapointing as they didn't rise, I made each baguette about 250 grammes each,
tastes ok - but flat as a pancake.
any ideas why?

Many thanks.

James

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, James.

When you say "they didn't rise," I assume you are referring to the shaped baguettes. You describe the baguettes as "flat as a pancake." That's pretty flat! Was that before or after baking? 

Regardless, you have two issues, as I understand your questions:

Shaped baguettes not "rising" (but spreading out?) could be from any combination of the following:

1. Gluten insufficiently developed.

2. Not developing a good "skin" of gluten on the loaves when shaping them.

3. Room too cool. You may have needed to proof longer.

4. Not supporting the sides of the baguettes while proofing. (How did you proof them?)

5. Insufficiently active starter. (I assume you added the 1/4 tsp of Instant yeast).

The "flat as a pancake" issue needs your clarification regarding at what stage the loaves were flat. Even if they spread a lot during proofing or transferring, if you did everything else right, they should have had good oven spring and rounded out a lot.  If they didn't spring, you may have shaped the baguettes to roughly (popping the bubbles that form during fermentation0,  over-proofed, not heated your oven stone enough, not steamed the oven well.

These possible explanations are not mutually exclusive. Everything matters.

Hope this helps you problem solve.

David

james9's picture
james9

Hi David, thanks for the response.

'Flat as a pancake' was a touch of British exaggeration on my part, They were pretty flat and didn't form the roundish shape as you'd expect, (more alligators than Pythons). That was after baking; they rose a reasonable amount during  proofing.

As for shaping, I did them in the same way as always, Bertinet style - you might say.

Proofed for 21 hr's exactly in the fridge and out an hour to room temp before the first rough shaping, and after the second baguette formation, on a couche well floured, as is the custom.

As far as yeast goes I used 1/2tsp of Instant yeast as quantities were doubled.

I know it doesn't make sense, the only thing i can think of is that the yeast I used was bad? Or insufficient for the flour I'm using, I use Manitoba, or very strong canadian bread flour that whole foods here in London sell.


They just didn't spring up.. Too embarrased to attach pic's will try again with 20g of fresh yeast I think..D'you reckon that's a good idea?

many thanks.

James

 

 

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, James.

If your starter is active, you shouldn't need more yeast. I generally make these now with no added yeast. I think you need to consider the causes of poor oven spring.

If you are using high gluten flour, you may need to mix longer to develop the dough. It should lead to higher loaves, if you are doing everything correctly.

David

proth5's picture
proth5

'nuff said

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Mini

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

Eli's picture
Eli

Very nice David. Looks like marvelous crunch with that crust.

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

It was indeed crunchy!

David

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

Rosalie

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

But only 3 "beautifuls?"

So, which of the 4 ficelles didn't you like? ;-)

David, emulating the classic Jewish mother.

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

... Beautiful, with an extra Beautiful for good measure.

Rosalie

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Rosalie.

Now you're exagerating! (But I do appreciate it.)

David

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Wonderful ficelles!  I really appreciate the way you wrote out your directions for making them...everything very nicely done and the jam, coffee, cafe au lait....just my cup O tea!

Sylvia

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

Leandro Di Lorenzo's picture
Leandro Di Lorenzo

Looks very tasty....

beautiful color, crust and crumb!!!!!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

David

scottfsmith's picture
scottfsmith

Thanks for posting these wonderful pictures and recipe.  I had good luck today with your recipe adapted to a room-temperature ferment -- see here.  I don't know how you managed to get such great rip on the top with this wet dough.

Scott

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

You did a good job. I posted more details in your topic.

David

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

They look really super - I MUST give this method a go! Thanks for sharing !

 

Andrew

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Let us know how yours turn out.

David

LindyD's picture
LindyD

As my regular baguette bake follows PR's Ancienne formula (which my kids and grandkids literally inhale), I had to try your ficelle recipe, David.

I wasn't sure of what the dough temperature was supposed to be so, I nuked the water for about 30 seconds (my well water is so cold in the winter, drinking a full glass causes brain freeze).

The next evening I removed the dough from the cooler and had to make a quick trip to YouTube to check out the baguette shaping videos.  The dough was so responsive that I missed the mark of short, thin baguettes, winding up with three long thin baguettes and one shorter one (I should have weighed the dough before cutting it).  There was no going back at that point and while my shaping skills need work, it was great fun working with the dough.

I should have slashed deeper, or vertically.  Actually, I'm surprised I was even able to get a few cuts in.

The ficelles tasted wonderful; the crumb was nice and open, and the crust was crisp and chewy. 

I will definitely practice making more of these, but am curious about the water temperature you used, and what effect using water of 40F would have.

Thanks so much for posting this formula.  These will make great Christmas gifts!

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Lindy.

Your crumb is outstanding! Wow!

I don't obsess over water temperature, although if a recipe is specific about it I follow the instructions. 40F is pretty cold, though. When I start with cold water, I usually warm it to "tepid" - 70-85F. The main effect of colder water would be to slow down fermentation. That is good for flavor development, but it could be a problem if timing is important to you.

I''m glad you liked your results. You should try this recipe with 100 gms added sourdough starter and 10% rye flour. The flavor is even better, in my opinion. The crust is less crunchy and more chewy with the sourdough, of course.

Thanks for sharing your results.

David

Janedo's picture
Janedo

Wow! Your crumbs is great! I am a firm believer that baguettes really don't have to be picture perfect to be incredibly GOOD! The "proper" look will come with practice. (I still haven't managed, but don't care). You can play with the hydration depending on the flour you're using.

Tell us what you think of the sourdough version. I like it even better than these ones.

Jane

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I love your philosophy, Jane...although I'm a bit late in saying so!  I tried the sourdough version but in my enthusiasm to load the oven, one baguette flew off the stone to the bottom rack.  If I ever do that again, I think I'll just let the fallen bread bake (or maybe burn) in place because I lost a lot of oven heat while fishing it out.  The baguttes that managed to stay on the stone were quite tasty, but didn't get the benefit of a sustained blast of heat and steam.

I'm going mix up two batches tomorrow after work so I can bake them the next morning for Christmas Eve dinner.

I really must thank you for getting Mr. Bouabsa to share his formula, and to you and David for working out the details and making them available here.  It is a great gift that keeps on giving each time they're baked  While I'm at it, I have to note my appreciation to Mark for his baguette shaping video.  Better shaping has led to better scoring....but still not as pretty as David's.

Joyeux Noël to you and your loved ones.

 

 

Janedo's picture
Janedo

I have had some terrible oven bread disasters! But losing one baguette is better than a whole loaf. Oh well, perfecting baguettes is lots of fun anyway. I think I'll do some up for Christmas, too. I really have to decide what I'm going to make for the meal, though!!!

Joyeux Noël et très bonnes fêtes à vous tous aussi!

Jane

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I will definitely try the sourdough and rye variation - tonight, in fact.

Thanks so much for posting the formula and for your encouragement!

Lindy

 

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

I tried this tonight but I don't have a scale (yet), so I used an online conversion to approximate.  I used 5 cups of flour when I think it should have been more like 4.  Does this sound right? 

After I realized it wasn't right I adjusted the water up at the beginning of the autolyse and tried to follow the method but the dough was very elastic, nowhere near what the video shows.  I'll still cook the bastards, no sense in wasting the flour but I don't have high hopes.  Who knows, stranger things have happened.

I'm going to try this recipe again later this week when I finally break down and buy a scale.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, md_massimino.

Welcome to TFL!

This dough is supposed to be very extensible. If yours was very elastic, maybe you added too much flour. Did you substitute a high-gluten flour by any chance?

A scale will really help.

Let us know how your first effort turns out.

David

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

I baked the dough that I messed up on the measurements with. Well, it's a testament to this recipe because they didn't come out half bad.  I continue to bungle the techniques and my oven really has a difficult time getting up to and sustaining the high temperatures required to give a good crisp crust, but overall a decent baguette.

Here's the crumb.  I had to turn the flash off or you couldn't see it very well.

With my new knowledge (and a scale) I'll try again this weekend with I'm sure improved results.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Good work for a first attempt. Just from the appearance, I think you needed higher hydration, but there are some alternative possibilities. 

How is the flavor?

I like your attitude! Looking forward to seeing your progress.

David

md_massimino's picture
md_massimino

I thought the flavor was very good but not as good as others I've made using a poolish start.  Hopefully that comes around this weekend when I try again.

Of course my kids thought they were great and ate them all already.  What can I say, they're easy to please :)

koloatree's picture
koloatree

hi,

first, thank you for sharing!

second ive tried the directions posted but my baguettes dont seem to bloom in the oven. i suspect it must be due to my shaping skills. when shaping the baguette after the 60min rest, how 'tight' do you roll? is one to treat the dough gently or push out the air? i watched a few clips on youtube and it seems that the final shaping of the baguette is pretty tight.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, koalatree.

This should be a fairly slack (wet, sticky) dough. You should handle it very gently when shaping. You absolutely do not want to "push the air out," but you don't want to do that in any bread when you are shaping. Well, maybe popping huge bubbles in a ciabatta.

There are lots of other things that influence bloom in the oven though. You must not over-proof. You need a hot oven. You need high humidity in the oven for the first third to half of the bake.

David

koloatree's picture
koloatree

good news i made progress. after rereading many times your post, i used extra water in the skillet, proofed much less, and it made such a big difference. i tried 2 diffrent flours. 1 gold medal all purpose and the second is gold medal bread. the all purpose was much better. the breads with more of a rise was the all purpose. the first batch sort of well done. also it was in the fridge for 36+ hours. thanks for the help!

 

 

 

 

 

 

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Very nice crumb, koloatree.

Crust is a bit well done. Do you think you baked them too long, or was the oven too hot?

David

koloatree's picture
koloatree

ahh yes, the first batch was overdone by accident. also i forgot to turn down the temperature! sometimes i get too excited watching the bread bake, i forget directions. i think that i figured since i keep opening the oven, i might as well set the temp slightly higher to compensate for heat loss. i will try again this wednesday.

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Trying your formula and improving my baguette scoring techniques will be the focus of my upcoming weekend baking.  Would you please give me some suggestions on what I could have done differently in terms of angle, depth and handling, etc., based on my 090525 batch? Any comments are greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Yippee

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Yippee.

I'm not sure what your question is. Your "090525 batch" was a boule, unless there is a message I can't find. Scoring boules is quite different from scoring baguettes. Both techniques are covered in my "Scoring Tutorial." I don't have anything to add to that.

If I am misunderstanding your question, please clarify.

David

Yippee's picture
Yippee

Sorry for the confusion.  I meant the '090525 Baguette Make-over' entry.  Thank you.

Yippee

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, Yippee.

Thanks for the reference. Now I see.

Looking at your baguettes on Flickr, I can see how you need to change your scoring.

Assuming you want the "traditional" baguette scoring rather than the single cut I used for the ficelles, you need to make each cut almost parallel to the long axis of the baguette. Each cut should be about 4 to 5 inches long. Each cut should overlap the previous one by 1/4 to 1/3. The cuts should have about 1/2 inch of dough between them, where they overlap.

Please excuse my poor drawing, but I hope it helps.

Don't forget to hold the blade at a shallow angle to the loaf and to make each cut quickly and firmly, about 1/4 inch deep. You are creating a "flap" of dough that will, hopefully, open up and rise above the surface of the loaf during baking to create nice bloom and a nice ear.

Good luck, and let us see your results! 

David

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