Adventures in Baby Steam and Razor Blades!
Recipe: Txfarmer's practice baguettes
Results of Take I - My beginner baguettes
I did some more research based on dabrownman's and greenbriel's advice from last week to see what I could tweak with scoring and steam. And thanks to alfonso, I did compare my weighing 17 times on my scale to the volume recommended by the yeast converter and I did end up really close, like grains close so I don't think my yeast level was off.
I made a full batch of the Beginner Baguette recipe and did 3 different things in the baking process, keeping everything else in the process the same. I haven't changed anything with dough handling (much) yet, I wanted to see if I had the same results with a second batch of dough changing things after.
- I baked 2 baguette's like I did previously, on an aluminum air bake sheet covered with a lasagna pan. This time I eliminated the parchment paper, added a tiny spice dish with water, and preheated those prior to baking. (the first time I put those in cold with the dough) I also increased the temp to 460 as the recipe says, instead of the 450 I did last time due to the parchment paper warning.
- The bottoms cook much better with parchment paper on the aluminum surface so that was not an improvement, rather awful actually.
- I steamed for 10 minutes as the recipe stated and was surprised that this was too long with such a baby steam component - the scores did swell but they puffed and blended right back into the rest. So improvement, still adjusting.
- The 460 is too high for my oven and baby steam, they crusted a little to fast and hit hard vs. crispy in spots - good to know. They bowed because my pan bowed at the higher heat.
- Crumb results are very similar to the ones from BB Take I, with a very slight improvement.
- Scored with hand held razor blade, better but not good.
- I baked one on parchment in the same manner
- First change with dough handling - I suspect that my flour is weak/lower protein count than the KAF in the recipe and that my handling is still very inexperienced so I left this loaf to proof after pre-shaping for an additional 45 minutes, then shaped and rested for 30 minutes while the other two were cooking. This showed distinct improvement. It still doesn't seem good, but it was noticeably better. So the question is why - gluten development, weak yeast, something I still don't know about?
- Steamed for 8 minutes - still too long
- Removed the cover and baking sheet and finished on parchment on the oven rack - Much better and this one got the crispy crackle crust and the crumb had another slight improvement.
- Scored with Cutco table knife, serrated with curved tip - this shape is good in that it allowed a better scoring motion and the sharpness broke through without too much drag on the wet dough, getting better.
- The last one I put in the refrigerator over night just wrapped up in cling wrap. Baked it today and invited Mom over for lunch. Took it out and warmed to room temperature, shaped and rested for 30 minutes. Dough was better yet, getting closer, still need more gluten development to get a tight skin surface as recommended. At least I think that is what is needed :)
- Used parchment paper, oiled - kept the paper from browning too much
- Steamed for 4 minutes and removed cover and steam - this is really close
- Left baking sheet until the 10 minute mark and removed it to finish baking on parchment on the oven rack
- This one I did at about 455 F and I got teeny tiny edges to the scores - better! This one was scored with the Cutco table knife as well.
- The crust is crazy crispy with a lot of tiny cracks and bubbles but just edging past that - I think I'm going back to 450 F next time, maybe higher for the preheat then turn it down slightly.
- The crumb still came out really well after refrigeration and the flavor was creamier if that makes sense, less crisp white bread tasting, fuller and well, better.
Batch 2 Crumb, Batch 3 Loaf
Batch 3 Crumb
With my very simplistic setup of existing items in a tiny oven and with my grandmother's voice echoing in my head "you already touched it too much!" from when she would teach me how to make country biscuits as a child, I'm pretty geeked I'm actually making bread, and it doesn't suck lol. I cook, I don't bake so this is a whole new world.
Super basic setup to start
Really old pans and oven, tiny and old
It is kind of like lasagna though, if I'll take a week to develop the flavors from picking the right tomatoes, adding the right herbs and spices at the right time, aging it appropriately, make and dry the noodles, culture some of the cheeses, until it all comes together with smiles and sighs around the dinner table, then I guess bread is kind of quick lol. It took a long time to get it to my idea of perfection but I loved every minute. Baguettes, my new lasagna….at least they're cheaper….so far.
I'm actually going to read a bread book this week, Bread Baker's Apprentice should be in at the library soon. There is only one copy in our system so it's coming from a few counties over. The first one they had available was The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. In my naiveté, I thought it sounded like skill development and concept sharing, terminology, the whole learning over time thing. Um, no, not what I was looking for. I want a bread journey, not a recipe book and not the cliff notes. They don't have the Ken Forkish or the Jeffrey Hamelman books that are referred to often. I may be able to get a friend in the city to check if their system has them if they are better.
So off to work on dough development. I'm thinking the next batch I will divide at the first S&F point into the 4 batches and work 1 the same way I have been as a control to compare, and then each of the other three with different degrees of change in the dough handling. Any suggestions on how to incrementally set up those batches would be awesome. The current formula is mix to shaggy mess - At 45, 90, 135min, do Stretch and Fold (S&F) - single and gently, minimal touching of crazy sticky dough. At 180min preshape, rest 25-30 min, shape, rest 30-60, bake. And her caps "AND MINIMAL TOUCHING". (see why I hear my grandmother?? :)
And then repeat with KA AP flour with a known protein count to see if my theory holds or if I'm on the wrong track completely. Hope the neighbors like baguettes….