To learn more about concentrated lactic acid sourdough (CLAS), please see here and here.
Recently, baguettes have been a hot topic on the forum. So I am posting this entry to join in the fun.
I usually don't make baguettes because they require more hands-on work than making boules or batards. The last time I made baguettes was a few years ago. I was so busy then that I hardly had enough time to sleep. Therefore, I could only upload pictures of baguettes and ignored all the details. To fill in the gap, I took pictures of my baguette workflow today.
I used Rus's baguette formula that uses CLAS. I wish I had learned about CLAS sooner. It would have saved me a lot of work, and the outcome would have been just as good, if not better.
Rus's formula and procedures are as follows:
70% water 18-20°C/64.4-68F (not higher) I reduced the hydration to 65% because Beehive can't absorb 70% of water!
3% CLAS (cold +4-+5°C not fresh, at least 2-3 days in the fridge)
1% dry yeast
yields three 343g baguettes
Initial dough temperature 25°C/77F
I mixed the dough in a spiral mixer for 8 minutes until it reached windowpane.
45 minutes, fold
45 minutes, fold
45 minutes, fold
keep dough temperature at 25°C/77F
into three pieces; roll, and rest for 15 minutes
bake 20-22 minutes with steam at 250°C/482F
Straight forward, isn't it? Per Rus, 25°C/77F is the optimum temperature for yeast multiplication. At this temperature, LAB produces more acetic acid than lactic acid, and yeast also produces a small amount of acetic acid. LAB is slow at this temperature, so it's suitable for creating the flavor of traditional baguettes.
Speaking of temperature, my friend's wife bought a Brod and Taylor proofer, unfortunately, according to my suggestion. She complained that the proofer could not reach her target temperature. I forgot to remind her that the proofer's internal temperature rarely matches the set temperature. Because its plastic panel is flimsy, the proofer's insulation is poor. Its temperature usually fluctuates with the ambient temperature. Using different thermometers to monitor the proofer's internal temperature and reset the temperature back and forth, especially when making CLAS, is what I have to do to ensure my sourdough's quality. It is a pain to use, but I am stuck with it because there is no better product on the market.
I pretty much followed Rus's procedures except one step - I divided the dough after the first 45 minutes of bulk, and I "pre-shaped" the dough in a rectangular container that would facilitate shaping later on.
I followed the School of Slow's baguette shaping method. It worked well for me a few years ago, and it still worked perfectly today! People often complain that household ovens are too small to make baguettes. However, I found this to be an advantage. Because the baguettes usually reach the maximum length suitable for household ovens after they are shaped, and they often look quite presentable at this stage, there is no need to extend/roll out the dough! I used the chopping board (15 inch/38cm) to gauge the length so that I was able to bake the baguettes vertically in the oven.
It'd be easier to shape it in this form if we start with a square dough.
I proved and loaded the baguettes separately so that they were "social distancing" from each other in the oven after loading.
To score, I used the "magic wand" shown in the picture. It works wonders! When I scored the first baguette, I was a bit lost. Then things got better, and I am most satisfied with the tapered one.
Oh, wait, the end products:
I also want to tell you something exciting. I harvested my first tray of black gold. I used the worm castings to brew my first bucket of compost tea and fed it to my plants. I'm sure that my garden plants are pleased because my kumquat tree is blooming in the second round, which is unprecedented! The aroma of blossom wafts in the air. Many bees and hummingbirds are buzzing around to collect nectar—what a happy scene!
Before the California wildfire broke out, I could see beautiful clouds in the morning and stunning sunset at dusk. I hope the terrible things surrounding us will disappear ASAP, and our lives can return to normal.