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DonD's Baguettes à'Ancienne with Cold Retardation

ananda's picture

DonD's Baguettes à'Ancienne with Cold Retardation


DonD's Baguettes à'Ancienne with Cold Retardation

A short while ago Don posted his latest work on these techniques he has been developing recently.   You can view his most excellent work here:  

Just over a week ago in a post which you can read here:

Don clarified a technique discussed by Daniel Wing in "The Bread Builders" book he co-authored with Alan Scott, known as "Bassinage".   This seems to be a dough mixing technique whereby the dough is mixed slightly tight, but then has additional water added late in the mixing.   The consensus seemed to be that this was not a way we would enjoy mixing dough.   But Don, and David Snyder before him; see here:

had adopted this technique using a long cold autolyse first, then adding salt yeast, and the extra water the next day, after an overnight refrigeration period.

Well, ideally you need a mixer for this to be effective, and I mix most of my dough at home by hand.   I do have a small hand-held electric mixer which has hook attachments as an alternative to the usual whisks.   So, I mixed the dough in small batches and developed a very fine dough.   The recipe I used is identical to the one given by David Snyder as shown above; except that I use fresh yeast and not dried.   I then followed Don's method of combining the Gosselin formula with the Bouabsa method to give long autolyse, mix and part ambient ferment, chilled ferment, then final proof and bake.   For the record I used the T65 farine de tradition French flour, as described here: and here: at 94% and 6% Dark Rye Flour, with hydration at 71% in total, as is David's formula from Peter Reinhart.

First time round I encountered the following problem:   I used 3 times the amount of fresh yeast to David's dried, all the time thinking that 1.5% was too much!   And it was.   Also the heat rise to mix the final dough took the finished dough temperature to 20°C.   This despite the hard work I put in to make sure the autolyse temperature was a cold 5°C.   So, the dough was kicking after just 2 hours and a S&F each hour.   This first time, I had made double quantity too, so the larger bulk really was moving.

I held the dough in the fridge til evening, giving a 6 hour cold fermentation period, but then decided I had to bake it before I went to bed.   On reflection, I should have divided the dough, semi-shaped it, then put it back in the fridge overnight.   The loaves came out looking somewhat under-proved, with a long split along the side of each baguette.   I made a boule as well, and that had similar betrayal of under-proving.

A brief report back to Don and David, then underway with the second attempt.  This time I used 1.5 times the amount to convert dried to fresh yeast.   Also, a smaller dough with a final temperature of 18°C, which was much easier to manage.   It had the full 3 hours with S&F, then back into the fridge overnight.   This morning, I watched Ciril Hitz's video on YouTube, see:

Then scaled and shaped 4 baguette pieces at just over 200g each, and set them en coûche.   The dough temperature in my warming kitchen reached 20°C, after a half hour's proof.   This was where I was still unsure how long to keep proving the dough.   This is where the beauty of long cold fermentation really comes through.   The dough is so stable, even though it is very well-matured.   I baked the first batch of 2 after 1½ hours final proof; not long enough, I soon realised.   I took an important phonecall regarding progress on my latest Food Policy assignment for my Master's Degree.   That was quite a blessing, as it held me up half an hour.   By this time the dough was becoming a little sticky, but still handled really well.   The resulting bake was very pleasing.

I made some egg mayonnaise with fresh dill, parsley and spring onion, and a salad to go with it, then took some photographs of this and the finished bread.   My wife and I ate 2 of these baguettes with the salad and eggs for our lunch straight after.   I know the crumb is not so open, although it was spot-on for translucency, and I have still to master proper cutting techniques.   The grignette I purchased has helped, but the scoring is not deep enough.   That said, the balance of crispy crust to soft tasty crumb was just right, and the bread was so fresh too.   Just a hint of rye, no pre-ferment; the first time I've really tried to work through such a formula.

Thanks again to Don and David; there is no obvious extra work involved in the longer ferment, if anything, it fits in well with a daily work pattern.

Photos shown here:


Best wishes



wally's picture

Andy- The crumb looks nice to me, and the pictoral overview of the process is nice to see.  Somehow I get so caught up in the various steps that it's only when all is said and done that I think "oh, you should have taken a picture of that."


DonD's picture

Great post and account of your experiment. From the rounded look of your baguettes, I infer that you got good oven spring. You mentioned the crumb being not too open, but in the close up shots it looks pretty open to me. My guess is that the fact that your T65 Flour has higher ash and protein content than the All Purpose Flour that I use, which is closer to a T55, the crumb is not going to be as open all other things being equal. I find that for flours with higher gluten and bran content, I need more yeast and more water to achieve an open crumb. You basically halved your yeast amount the second time around. I wonder if you need a little more?

As for good grignes, those are tough to achieve on a consistent basis. In my experience, too much steam will hinder ear development. I only use 2/3 cup boiling poured onto a cast iron pan lined with lava rocks which I take out halfway through the bake.

Just like you, I am amazed at the silkiness and workability of the dough.

Nice job!



ananda's picture

Hi Don,

Thanks for getting back to me with such positive comments.

Yes, the T65 flour will have higher ash content, but I don't think the protein will be higher at all.   It's an authentic French flour from N. France, so it's unlikely to be as high as the 11.3% you quote for the KA artisan flour.

I think the yeast was correct, given I managed to get 2 and 1/2 hours final proof from these baguettes.

Your comments about steam are really interesting.   It's late and I need to go to bed.   I'll read what you say more carefully tomorrow and think it through.   I'm sure it makes sense.   I will say that the crust was wonderfully coloured and crisp and yes, oven spring very healthy, second time round; no splits and under-proof.

I have a plant mister to use as a spray.   Is that a good technique to use to get a better cut in the dough surface?   Or, is that too much water, as you allude to above?

Best wishes


ehanner's picture

Andy, what a great overview and post. Your crumb does look good. It looks like you didn't dust with flour before scoring. That might lead to a slightly better ear. I like just a little dusting to insulate the dough some. Very nice though Andy. Great post and very helpful.


ananda's picture

Great tip, Eric, thank you.

I can't think why I haven't applied that to baguettes.   I nearly always have a little flour dust when cutting other breads, yet I never thought of it for baguettes.

I'm sure David has been advising about this recently; I'll check out his comments as well.

Best wishes


Zenith's picture

It sounds as if Don did not allow any proofing time after shaping, but that Andy let his baguettes proof 2 hours after shaping.  Which is preferable?

ananda's picture


I'm pretty sure Don gives his final proof schedule here:    This is 1 h 45 mins

For me, I proved 2 for 1 h 30 min which was not long enough.   The other 2 went after 2 h 30 min as I got waylaid in a phonecall.   Actually this was spot-on, but note I used fresh yeast and cut the quantity way back after the first batch proved too lively.



LindyD's picture

That crumb looks very nice to me, Andy, and all your baguettes look delicious.

I'm going to have to study your posting as well as Don's before giving it a try.  Then a few hours with Ciril Hitz and his baguette shaping video.  

My baguette experience is rustic, putting it mildly.

Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete


Why can't we taste over internet...........Looks great................Pete

ananda's picture

Thanks Pete,

So true; it was a great lunch

Best wishes