Sourdough baguettes: My version of Gosselin's "baguettes tradition"
I have made baguettes following many different formulas. Some of the most interesting have been various versions of “pain à l'anciènne,” including those of Reinhart in The Bread Baker's Apprentice and of Leader in Local Breads. Sometime back in 2008, I found an e-mail that Peter Reinhart had sent to a bread bakers' Usenet mailing list in 2003 which described the formula for pain à l'anciènne as he got it directly from Philippe Gosselin. The version that ended up in BBA was simplified somewhat by Reinhart, adding all the ingredients before the mixing, omitting the double hydration and delayed addition of the salt.
When I first made baguettes from Gosselin's original method, they were the best-tasting ones I had ever made. I finally got to taste Gosselin's baguettes tradition (from the rue Caumartin shop) last year. To my taste, they had a bit of a tang suggesting they might have been made with levain, so I modified the formula to use a liquid levain and found I preferred the result to that leavened with commercial yeast. In fact, I preferred what I had baked to Gosselin's own.
This is the version I used for today's bake:
Organic AP Flour
Instant yeast (optional)
Notes: Accounting for the flour and water in the levain, the total flour is 500 g and the total water is 375 g, making the actual dough hydration 75%. The actual salt percentage is 1.75%.
For today's bake, I made 3/4 of the dough amount in the table above.
I mixed the levain the night before starting on these and retarded it in the fridge overnight.
The night before baking, mix the flour and levain with 225 g of ice water and immediately refrigerate.
The next morning, add the salt and 50 g of ice water to the dough and mix thoroughly. (I did this by hand by squishing the dough between my fingers until the water was fully incorporated.)
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl with a tight cover.
Ferment at room temperature until the dough has about doubled in volume. (3 hours for me) Do stretch and folds in the bowl every 30 minutes for the first two hours.
An hour before baking, pre-heat the oven to 500ºF, with baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
Divide the dough into 4 more or less equal pieces and stretch each into a 12-14 inch long “baguette.”
Score and bake immediately at 460ºF, with steam for 10 minutes, and for about 20 minutes total.
Cool on a rack before eating.
Notes: In Step 7., I specify shaping the loaves by simply stretching the dough pieces into a rough baguette shape. This is a very slack dough and a challenge to handle as one might a lower-hydration baguette dough. If you are very comfortable handling slack dough, have a firm grasp of the “iron hand in a velvet glove” principal and are feeling up to the challenge, you can shape the pieces as you would shape a baguette ordinarily. That is, in fact, what I did for this bake.
You will also note that I scored these baguettes with a single, longitudinal slash. I find the results more satisfactory than the traditional 5 or 7 cuts when scoring a very sticky dough like this. However, the difference is merely cosmetic.
These baguettes had a chewy crust, except for the ears, which were crunchy. I think they could have baked 5 minutes longer, or I could have left them in the turned off oven for another 5-7 minutes to dry the crust. The crumb was nice and open. The flavor was sweet, complex and moderately tangy. I attribute this to a combination of factors – retarding the levain overnight and fermenting the dough, after the final mixing, at 85 dF.
This baguette is still a favorite.
Submitted to YeastSpotting
They look delicious ...
They were very tasty 2 hours after baking. Four hours after baking, I tasted them again, and they tasted more sour. This morning, they were good but some of the flavor complixity was diminished.
Very delicious looking baguettes. Well done...as usual :D
delicious looking. fine crust and crumb as usual. A nice World Bread Day example! Makes one want to consider simplifying slashing even more, if you were handicapped like me, to go to Pierre Nury's no slash, stretch and flop Light Rustic Rye :=)
Thanks for sharing David
Reinhart in his BBA version calls for no scoring. That would probably work for this very extensible dough. Your choice.
Wow, these look lovely. The smaller baguette has just about (in my opinion) perfect ears for this type of bread.
I have also played with the Leader version of this formula, and found it quite nice. I actually use the double hydration technique with salt water for nearly every bread I make, placing it after the autolysis in my process.
I'll have to have you give me some tips if you're ever out to east bay.
I'm no expert on double hydration, but my understanding is that it is primarily useful in very high-hydration doughs.
Indeed, you can develop the gluten easier in a lower hydration dough, then adding more water (and salt in this case) once the gluten has had a chance to develop a bit. My standard bread recipe comes in at about 78% and I've found that adding more water along with the salt after the autolysis both cuts down on kneeding time/number of folds needed, as well as makes the salt easier to incorporate into the dough.
These look amazing! Love the shiny, open crumb, and I'm imagining what these must have tasted like- a sourdough version of Gosselin's pain a la ancienne :) Appreciate your sharing the details of Gosselin's original method.
Nicely done David! Inspiring me to lean towards baguettes again. I thought of you in the last few days after baking 4 loaves of SF Sourdough and having failed at a good score bloom all four times. I seem to have better luck with slashing rye breads than sourdough. The slash always turns out flat, with the edges instead of turning upwards and creating ears, stay level with the crust. Anyway, back to YOUR drawing board post :)
Note: edited 03/2016 to be more concise in space by adjusting picture size, not at first understanding how to control pigging up the column inches.
I baked your formula for this ficelle this morning for the first time with a few tweaks. My short journey to here was through the Bouabsa baguettes:
Eventually onto your baguettes made with liquid levain:
To DonD's baguettes a l'ancienne w/ dbl cold retardation:
And finally to your Baguette Tradition after Phillip Gosselin:
The tweaks that I mentioned above:
My journey across these few breads over a relatively short time has been an educational one. As I'd mentioned to you, I have a strong desire to push the caramelization factor - hence the consistently dark crusts.
Once more, I can attribute a portion of my success so far to the inspiration that I've received from reading your posts at TFL, as well as abiding by your formulas.
They all look well-baked, and the crumb photo is super!
Although it doesn't seem traditional, I too prefer a bolder bake for baguettes, as I'm sure you can tell.
I only rotate through the levain Gosselin baguettes every so often, maybe my 3rd or 4th time yesterday. I'm happy with the results, and I probably don't bake them more often because I tend toward bakes that require fewer hours on bake days than these do (I bake when my wife takes off for a few hours of her myriad activities on Tue., Thu. and Sat.).
Anyway, below are two pics of yesterday's bake. The first is what has become my standard "cheesecake" shot. As you can see, I am not at all disappointed with the results, rather the opposite - delighted. As I don't get to these often, I forget how slack the dough is at shaping time, but as I go along, I tweak an instruction/activity or two and record them along with what to expect from the dough at that stage. And shaping is a bit of a challenge, just as you had originally outlined.
The crumb shot has a snub-nose thanks to my wife lopping off the tip before I could cut it (an ongoing "issue").
Okay, so what is my "problem"? It is with my inability to produce a more sour levain outcome. My levain seems to be quite happy and healthy, and I refresh it every two-three weeks from the refrigerated stock. I have been refreshing the levain based on Mariana's suggested 3 stage build, moving a 100% starter base progressively through 62%, 61% and finally to a 66% refreshed starter at the end of stage three. And it is this refreshed starter that I use for creating a formula-ready liquid levain.
Functionally, this provides me with a healthy and happy starter, but not with any level of even vaguely pronounced tang. So...I next took a portion of that starter as a base and used dabrownman's 3 stage build as a new base to make a liquid SJSD levain for the Gosselin dough. A wonderful outcome, as I mentioned and as you can see above. But (the big 'but' here), no improvement in tang.
I've been around the block long enough to understand that some things take more time, but at this point, I'm at a loss to understand why I can produce an active starter for totally acceptable output, but I'm currently incapable of controlling the level of tang/sour aspect of the final product. It has such a mild flavor composition as to be just about negligible. A tasty and quality bread, for sure, but not what I am aiming for in terms of tang.
I use a 50/50 WW/Rye flour mix for my refreshes.
Any clues to discern or suggestions for the next round?
BTW, we are headed back to Portland to spend the summer there. So, unlikely that I'll bake during that time, but after an almost three year departure from that city which we love so much, we are quite looking forward to revisiting there, and may use this as an ongoing template for future summer excursions.
First, I have no experience with starter fed with that flour mix. However, in theory, it should produce a more sour levain than my mix does.
Let's see. To get more acid into a dough there are several approaches:
1. Use a higher percentage of pre fermented flour, and let the levain get very mature.
2. Paradoxically, use a lower percentage of pre fermented flour and use a long, cool bulk fermentation.
3. Use a firmer levain.
4. Retard the firm levain for couple days before mixing the dough.
5. Retard the formed loaves.
Now, these tactics can be used in various combination. However, you should consider that some - the first one, for example - may increase sourness at the expense of other desirable flavor elements.
Enjoy Stumptown! It doesn't look like we will get there this Summer.
These look awesome, and just how I want to perfect my baguettes. I'm just starting out, and was hoping you could clarify a couple of points.
1. The first step asks to 'mix' the dough and water. For those without a mixer, does this mean knead? I found the hydration quote low compared to the sponge I make, so I found I had to knead the mix to fully incorporated. Is this correct? This leads me to my second question:
2. Why is it important to hold back some water till the next day?
Thanks again for providing the keys to what looks like a very tasty baguette!
1. These baguettes are made without any mechanical mixing. The first step is to mix the flour AND the levain with most of the water. I do this with a "Danish Dough Whisk," but you can use a wooden spoon, a spatula or your hands.
2. The so-called "double hydration technique" is usually used in high hydration doughs. When hydration gets very high, the water molecules actually interfere with gluten network formation. They physically get between the gluten molecules and prevent the formation of the weak chemical bonds between folds of the long gluten molecules which make up the gluten network of CO2-trapping alveoli that give the dough its "structure." So, you start with a lower hydration dough, and you give the dough time to form these bonds, then you mix in the remaining water. This technique is most helpful with even wetter doughs, ciabatta, for example.
Note: This formula is my own adaptation of the Gosselin formula. In mine, a liquid levain contains a significant portion of the water in the total dough. If you leave out the levain in my formula, your dough will be much too dry.
I hope that helps.
Thanks for the detailed info. Makes perfect sense now. I did find that I could not fully incorporate the flour in step 1 by hand mixing with a wooden spoon. Perhaps my levain was too stiff. I make it a bit less than 1:1.
I'll see how they turn out today!
David, I want to try your fanstatic recipe, but I have one question, do I understand correctly that there is only mixing of the ingredients without any kind of kneading (slap&fold, Forkish's pincer or whatever)? If so, can you tell my why?
Look at Step 4. in the procedures. The technique used for gluten development (besides just time) is "Stretch and Fold in the Bowl." This is similar to Forkish's technique, but much more vigorous. Here is Jeff Hamelman's description of the technique:
With a rounded plastic bowl scraper, bring the ingredients together into a shaggy mass. Do this by running the scraper down the inside wall of the bowl and bringing the ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl and folding them on top of the ingredients that were on top of the bowl. Rotate the bowl about 20% with each stroke, so you are always working on a different portion of the dough. There is no need to empty the contents onto the work table.
And here is a video by Mark Sinclair of the technique (although he does his initial mix mechanically):
Hope this answers your question.
Thank you for your answer. I was looking for the gluten development in the mixing part that's why I missed it. Time for practice :)
I've just found out how stupid my question was as from the start I was confusing what mixing and kneading was. I still don't know what is the difference between different kneading techniques and stretch and fold but as I understand correctly it's rather either/or. It's really confusing as I am learning all of the stuff from books and videos and TFL topics.
Thank you again for your advice and I'm running to the second s&f to my baguette dough.
I would say the terminology is the where the stupidity is located. Hardly anyone seems to do what I understand "kneading" to be anymore, at least among professionals. In the U.S.A., stretch and fold on the board or in a container seems to be the technique of choice for developing gluten during bulk fermentation.
In my view, focusing on the function first and then specifying the technique used to accomplish it is the best approach to demystifying bread making.
I see... That's what I'm trying to do, but everything gets more and more confusing. The more I read the less I know... But I'm not even close to giving up.
Thank you for your good word and guidance. Many of your posts on TFL gave me good grounds on how should I do breadmaking.
I was trying to make your baguettes but I have few questions. When I don't want to refrigerate the levain should I leave in room temp for 12-14 hrs or 8, more like Tartine? And second question, if my dough is not rising in 3 hours should I s&f it more than 2hrs so only the last hour is without s&f? And, if so, how I know that I should stop doing s&f and leave the dough for rest? Today my dough was rising for 5 hours and it was impossible to shape it in any way and I did not achieve satisfactory oven spring, I am afraid because of my poor s&f technique and schedule.
I will appreciate any help so the next time could be better :)
You never need to refrigerate levain. You could just feed in 1:2:2 (Starter:Water:Flour) every 12 hours. However, unless you are making SD breads daily, you are going to end up tossing a lot of starter or finding another use for it. (SD Pancakes, 3 meals per day?) Refrigerating the levain is primarily a way to waste less flour for the person who bakes once or twice per week.
How soon after feeding your levain you use it depends on 3 factors: 1) the feeding ratio; 2) the fermentation temperature; and 3) the flavor profile you desire.
If your dough is "not rising in 3 hours," either your levain is not sufficiently active or your room temperature is too cool. Or maybe you are de-gassing it excessively, which is doubtful.
Generally, the baking teachers I respect say that no dough should be allowed to ferment for longer than an hour between folds. That has more to do with equalizing dough temperature and gas distribution than gluten development. And, in general, you do not want to fold for the last hour of fermentation, so you don't excessively de-gas the dough.
I hope that answers your questions.
Thank you for your answer yet again. You gave me wider perspective on this case.
I have to think it over what possibly could've gone wrong. My baguettes were totally flat. Place where I leave the dough is 23-24 celcius deg so I believe it's not too cold, for other doughs it's just fine. But I feel for the first two hours that dough is really cold because of refrigerating it overnight. Maybe because it's the levain. I hope it's that because I don't know what else... I'll try feeding my rye starter as I bake on it more often and it should be stronger...
One more question. Could it help if I get the bowl out of the fridge an hour before adding water and salt to it so it warms a bit?