The Fresh Loaf

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Some failure, some success

bottleny's picture

Some failure, some success

I had tried again baking these two weeks (I'm a weekend baker). My first goal is to bake a very good baguette like what I saw in the bread books and in France.

Failed sourdough baguette

Last week, I used Carl's starter and the no-knead bread recipe, but tried the baguette shaping. The later didn't go well as you can see below.

The recipe is similar to this one in breadtopia but use longer fermentation in the fridge (37 hrs), followed by 11-hr fermentation at room temperature.

Just mixed. At that time, I measured the flour by volume, since my digital scale had not arrived yet. When compared with the one below, I think this was wetter.

After the first rise, did the stretch & fold (very difficult because the dough tended to stick onto the chopping mat) and 2nd proof (1.5hr). Following Ciril Hitz's demonstration, I managed to have three long sticks.

Initially I proof them on the floured towel. But they were still very sticky and hard to handle, I then decided to rest them on the roaster pan .

Baked at 475F (didn't know the exact temperature in the oven then). I tried to create the steam by SylviaH's method. But most of the steam came out from the ventilation hole on the top of the oven.

When I took this photo, I realized that I forgot to score the dough! Not much oven rising either.

The sourdough sticks. The bottom(not evenly brown; the one in the center was darker)


As expected, the crumbs didn't have big holes.

The taste was very sour, a little over what I would like. I'm not sure whether that's normal since this was my first time to have sourdough bread. These were dryer on the 2nd day.

Kind of Successful Stirato

This week I decided to try Lahey's no-knead Stirato recipe. I thought I would have better chance to succeed with his method.

Besides, my order of some baking tools finally arrived, including the digital scale and oven thermometer. This time I used weight rather volum for measuring flour.

Just mixed (Lahey's recipe is 75% hydration). And fermented in the fridge for 11 hr and then at room temperature for 12 hr.

Again, it's very sticky (Question 1). I finally managed to create a rod and divided it into two.

After resting for 40min (Question 2), then stretched them about 13-14in long and put them in the preheated roaster pan (at 475F). I sprayed a little water on top and inside the Al pan (as cover). By the time when I closed the oven door, the temperature already dropped below 400F. :-( Well, I still need to practice more.

Baked with cover for 20 min and without for 10 min (at 450F).

I knew it's a success when I took them out.

The bottom was very dark (Question 3).


The crumbs

Very nice for sandwich for today's lunch

Thoughts & Questions

Lahey's "cover" method is easy to succeed even for a newbie. No matter what kind of tools you use for the cover, it works. I wish I can find a way to create enough steam in my oven. Before that, his method is the best I can get.

Question 1: How do you handle a very wet dough? Maybe I didn't put enough flour on the surface? Is it not a good idea to use chopping mat even sprayed with flour?

Question 2: This recipe (Stirato) is different from the basic no-knead bread. For 2nd rising time, Lahey calls 30 min for Stirato but 1-2 hr for the basic no-knead bread. Why is that? I didn't get the double volume for 40 min but I went ahead to bake anyway.

Question 3: The bottom of the bread came out very dark and thick. How can I make it not so dark?


LindyD's picture

Wet dough: you could try spraying a bit of oil on your hands and on your board, or having a bowl of warm water on the counter so you can dip your hands in it.  A dough scraper is invaluable with wet dough.  

Stirato:  I've never seen the Lahey Stirato recipe, so I can't comment on the bread other than to say yours looks quite nice.  How did it taste?

Dark bottom:  you could try moving your rack up a notch - but you might also consider using a baking stone instead of a dark metal pan.   You are getting uneven heat in your oven, which is why some of the baguettes are darker.  Rotate the bread midway through baking.  Parchment or a bit of corn meal between the pan and bread will prevent sticking.

Steam:  it took me a long time to figure out how to generate steam and retain moisture in my gas oven for those crucial first minutes, but I finally was successful.

If your goal is to bake a great baguette that looks like what you see in the bread books and France, I'm not sure if the no-knead technique will accomplish that.  Now that you have a scale, take a look at SteveB's baguette formula.  Or any of the baguette formulas here at TFL.

Most importantly, have fun!

bottleny's picture

Thanks for your suggestions. I already ordered a baking stone, which will be arrived soon.

The taste of Stirato was very nice. It combined lightness from the thin crust on the top and bitterness from the bottom. The crumbs were chewy.

I will try SteveB's recipe. But I still need to practice more on handling wet dough for baguette shaping and, most importantly, to create enough steam in my oven. More baking to come. :-)

taurus430's picture

I am trying to get some info on Stirato breads and came across this post. I have Jim's bread book and have been baking no-knead bread for 3 yrs now, 2 yrs after it first came out with Mark Bittman. I really like this method and learned how to work with wet doughs, only, although you need more bench flour, you're not suppose to incorporate more flour "into" the dough. To get height, stretch and fold the dough which helps and I found oiling my hands help plus I use a plastic, flexible dough scraper.

   I like what you did the second time baking in a roaster pan with an aluminum roaster pan as a cover. The bottom pan is made of what material? I have a specaled blue pan from my Mom that might work. I have Ciabatta's, Puglise, Foccacia and Pizza down pat, but I love Baguettes and want to get into that. The Baguette needs special handling which is why wet doughs are not good. So I will try this Stirato, by stretching, but I find my breads come out the best in a round cast iron pot or I have the long Sassafras clay pot which is tremendous, but not long enough for what I need. Hope I'm not to late on this issue!!