The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

When is a baguette not a baguette?

hungryscholar's picture

When is a baguette not a baguette?

quinoa crumb

Is a baguette a formula, or a shape? That's the question I found myself asking by the time I was done with this one. It's clear from Tartine Bread that Chad feels that it's the formula that makes a baguette, not the shape, when he talks about using his country bread dough and the result being elongated country bread. While inspiration for the 15% garbanzo flour I used here was reading that there's a limit to the amount of bean flour a French baguette can contain, I suspect is that percentage is far above what most self-respecting baguettes contain. The rest of the flour was KA AP. But if baguette is formula and not shape, then what's the term for long bread- submarine?

In any case, sometimes I am trying to put together flavors I think will go well together, and sometimes I just have lots of different things I want to try and they wind up together in the same bread so I'm not constantly baking. And that's why this bread has15% cooked red quinoa. And shaping as a "submarine"? That was because my wife had made some tasty meatballs the night before and I had a meatball sandwich in mind. That and I try to intervene before my hands automatically shape the dough into a boule. Once they learned that trick there's been no stopping them.

Similarly, the bread has an extra 25g of water, because I can tend to add the salt at the beginning of the mix on autopilot, and this time I remembered I wanted to autolyze. So I held back the salt, but added all the water initially had in mind.

In other words, probably not a baguette, but a good example of how baking day tends to go around here- and a fine vehicle for meatball subs, and a few other sandwiches thereafter.



Isand66's picture

That's some mighty fine looking Submarines :).

Shai's picture

It's a formula that also gave it's name to a shape. So you can make a quinoa baguette the as much as you can make a quinoa boule or quinoa roll. However, for something to be simply called "baguette" it must use the right formula. That's how I see it.

lepainSamidien's picture

I tend to believe that the baguette is a form rather than a formula, though I would not close myself off to reasonable suggestions to the contrary. Le mot "baguette," en français, means variably "wand," "baton," or "chopstick" (among others), which would imply that it refers to shape.

En revanche, let us also pursue the following question: if I use a "baguette" formula and shape the dough into rounds or into bâtards, would it still be a baguette? I would say no. Conversely, if I take a dough that is not the "traditional" baguette dough and shape that into long wand-like loaves, would I call these baguettes? I think I would, and le monde de boulangerie would not disagree. Enter into any French boulangerie and they will have an assortment of baguettes (baguette blanc, baguette de tradition, baguette complète, etc.) : all different doughs, but the same, tell-tale shape.

In a word, hungryscholar, you've got yourself some mighty fine baguettes, but you have every right to call them submarines . . . it would seem only fitting to do so if they are destined to house some delicious meatballs. In any case, whatever you call them, I hope they were delicious !

Happy happy baking

dabrownman's picture

It is the shape that counts.  The formulas have changed drastically over the years in kind of yeast used, SD, flours, hydration etc.  But txdarme'rs 100% whole wheat baguettes are the best I've ever seen - and why she is called Empress Ying; Emperor Ming the Merciless's grand daughter because her baking is out of this world ...and fit for kings. 

HYappy Baking 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

When you call it a "hungry scholar stick."  or your "other" flour goes over 50% of the flour content.  

A sub is much softer, usually with more softening ingredients.  

hungryscholar's picture

as you say Mini, usually that calls to mind yet another type of bread. And though baguette definitely is a shape, it feels like it is a type of bread as well, though I'm somewhat at a loss as to how to define it, and in fact some of what I think is about the formula is probably due to the shape.

Maybe I should just be happy that such a variety of breads can be made with the same flour by changing hydration and shaping. I think there's a bit in one of Reinhart's books introducing a sweet dough talking about how he made a variety of breads from different traditions with the same dough, but his fellow bakers were adamant that, say stollen, was nothing like panettone and so on. And maybe they were right, because I'm becoming more and more convinced that the baker makes the bread(what it s).

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with similar base dough.  Shape it into a roll, a french stick, a loaf, or a pretzel, the handling is very much part of the name.  Some shapes cannot be separated from their dough formulas.  Other can.  It depends on the local tradition and how the bread is eaten.  If you give it the French name, you are bound to using a French tradition.

Taking on the name of a traditional bread from another culture and changing it, almost requires you come up with a new name.  The other name for a Baguette is "A French Stick" so why not call your lovely new bread after your location or inspiration?