The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Amber Waves of Grain, 2018

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Amber Waves of Grain, 2018

Last year I kicked off the year with two entries of 2016 in review.  The first was baguettes I baked, and the second was the batards.  This year I thought that I'd document a slew of selected baguettes from my favorite viewing angle.  Some are repeats from last year as this is not a 2017 review.  With few exceptions, all are different breads.

Comments

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Gorgeous.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

thanks, alan

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

.. truly impressive..

alfanso's picture
alfanso

asked questions about...well, it really doesn't matter.  In the middle of the somewhat angry post he said "You make beautiful baguettes, of which you post the same photos every week. But what else can you bake?"

And I took that as a huge compliment.  Part of my reply was " I thank you for mentioning the work for which I did nothing but for more than a year, starting from the hideous until I was able to become consistent and create baguettes from mostly anything that someone else posted here which interested me.  If all I ever do from here on out is baguettes, then I will claim success in my endeavors."

So, yeah, I'm pretty darn happy that I mostly reached that point of consistency.  An important hallmark for me.

A very big and grateful thank you, alan

Bread1965's picture
Bread1965

Something I think about often is the idea behind concentrated effort... or more commonly thought of as "going deep".. I believe it's the only way to truly learn mastery about something. I appreciate that (in my context) I use the word mastery loosely.. but it's the only way we (Ok, maybe I) learn.. by focusing on one area and being consistent with it.. making little shifts along the way and watching the impact to learn what variables are at play.. it takes a long time, it's tedious, and often a level of obsession that might not be truly healthy.. but it's such a worthwhile journey..

I've recently bought Trevor Wilson's book on mastering an open crumb.. and as a result, in the past month I've spent more time working on improving starter health than I have on baking bread.. tweaking what I feed it, where, when, etc.. today I'll make my first bread in over a month.. all the while looking for the subtle changes my starter are imparting onto the process along the way.. before moving on to the next step.. I'm sure in time and with enough practice I'll be able to make a bread that looks like his.. it will take me away from all sorts of other breads I'd like to bake and my bookmarked list will grow longer and longer.. but once I do figure out the secret sauce.. wow.. will I be a happy baker.. and then I'll go back and whittle away the bookmark list and find another quest.. Let's see!

So while variety is the spice of life.. I sure do appreciate someone that does something consistently and well..

pul's picture
pul

These are truly eye catchers!

Congrats

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

And a darned tasty one at that!

thanks, alan

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

Well done all the way around.  Lucy says maybe now you can graduate from fine bread photography and actually make the bread this year?  Being a German who only speaks Swedish, she doesn't quite get the Whole Baggie Experience Thing!  Maybe she will get smarter this year!

Great Baking Don Baggs

alfanso's picture
alfanso

always gets first dibs.  Similar scene at our household.  Except in this case it is the wife who scores first, and Castagna gets on the back of the line.  

I'm getting tired of paying the studio for stock photos, so I just might take you up on that notion.

And if the apprentice gets confused about the baggies, just tell her it's a U-Boot with picture windows.

thanks, alan 

merlie's picture
merlie

That does it - I have just got to get this right ! Must admit that perfecting panettone had taken over for a while but now that is over......baguettes have to be the next challenge !  I have Hamelman's book. Which formula should I attempt first ? With polish ? Pate fermented ? Or ? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.

My KA is sitting in the corner of my counter laughing at me as I struggle to learn how to use my new Ankarsrum ( a Christmas gift from my husband )

Thank you for posting all those wonderful photos alfanso !

merlie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Yes, we humans do occasionally get distracted by the seasonal callings and 'tis ('twas?) the season for holiday specialties. 

A mighty good place to start is the Vermont SD.  A gaggle of TFL denizens will all raise their hands in agreement, I'm certain.  Very easy dough to handle, completely compliant to the hand, a very modest hydration of 65%, but produces a great and open  and quiet delicious crumb.  I recall my write-up about it  being a dough that almost wants to shape itself.  I could go on.  

I was a late and resistant adapter to this bread, but quickly became a convert.  As a bonus you get to experience a 125% hydration levain.  Mr. Hamelman uses a bread flour for his levain which has a somewhat unique (non) growth to the build, so that is an experience in itself.  I more often substitute all rye flour in place of the white and the build results couldn't be more different.  A side by side experiment with the two levains in concurrent builds is a fun learning laboratory all its own.

All in all an easy, very tasty and fun dough to get your hands on and into!

Thanks, alan 

merlie's picture
merlie

Thank you Alan for your advice re Vermont sourdough . I tried yesterday . It was a very wet dough . I weighed everything. Only afterwards realizing that I had forgotten to hold back 2Tbls of the liquid leaving and had added all of it to the flour and water.    Mixed in Ankarsrum for approx 3 minutes . It looked wet but I was leary about adding more flour . Autolyse for 60 minutes as recipe then added salt . Continued mixing on medium speed for 15 minutes. Nothing changed ! Still very wet. I followed the directions exactly from then on , folding in the bowl at 50 minute intervals . At this point I had to decide whether to pour it into the garbage or  continue !  Log story short - four long pools went into a 460 oven divided by folds in parchment paper . Scoring absolutely impossible ! By this time my husband was highly amused but then called me to the oven to see these ugly long pools of dough actually rising !!

15 minutes out of the oven I could not wait and had to cut into one . Not nearly as risen as it should have been but possibly the best open crumb I have ever achieved . It was slightly tangy (just right for me) We finished the loaf.

Maybe attempting this and learning how to use my new mixer at the same was not the way to go.

I will try again !  Merlie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Firstly, congrats on giving it the old college try.  As the frog sitting at the bottom of the well said "there's no place to go but up!".

However when I read about a very wet dough, I get the strong feeling that there was a miscalculation in there somewhere with either too little flour or too much water.  And not just a spare tablespoon or two.  Also, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, no dough short of perhaps the wettest ciabatta should be mixed anywhere near that long. I mix by hand, purportedly a slower mix than by mechanical devices, and I can do 300 French Folds of this dough in barely more than 6-7 minutes, excluding a 5 minute mid-mix rest for the dough.  So something is not happening correctly.

I urge you to review this post that I wrote when I first tried the Vermont SD and see if you can ID some similarities and differences.  My notes are included, so you can compare your experience to mine.  The post also includes the formula normalized to 1000g which will give you 3 "normal" or 4 slender baguettes.

And one very important note on the 2 stage levain build.  The way that Mr. Hamelman presents his levain build is to make enough to leave over exactly how much levain will be used as starter for the "next day's" levain build.  Make sure that you don't use all of the levain in the mix, else (in the case of the 1000g example) you will have added 18g more of a very wet levain to your mix.  If you did so, that would certainly be a likely culprit.

I had two followups to this post as well.  This first uses Bread flour, the second uses AP flour - where the dough was less "rubbery" and more extensible, and the third where I used an all rye levain instead of all white flour for the levain.

Good luck on try #2!  alan

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

Absolutely stunning !!!   The sheer variety and mastery of technique are staggering. I surely will never be able to perform like that with a blade. I am glad to have YOUR pics to please my eyes :)  c

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Just to level set once more, here's a shot of perhaps my earliest attempt at baguettes.  Snickering and snorting are acceptable responses.  

Just a lot of attention to detail and repetition, learned process and technique over time paved the way for me.  And indeed, for all of us here.  I cat imagine anyone who gave it an honest try while attending TFL University and didn't come away a better baker for the experience.

Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement, alan

trailrunner's picture
trailrunner

yes those look pretty bad....you have made great progress !!   Just goes to show what practice does and attention to detail c

BreadBabies's picture
BreadBabies

They have sexy fireman calendars...why not a sexy bread calendars? Amber Waves...2018 Calendar.

And while we on the subject does anybody else feel like when they ask someone for a "crumb shot" that it's sort of the bread equivalent of screaming "Take it off!  Take it off!"

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Playbread magazine, but still waiting for the publisher to tell me if they'll use any for their Feb. centerfold.

Reminds me of the old standup comedian Jackie Mason.  "Want to know how sexy I am?  If I took off my shirt you'd all say the same thing 'put it back on'".

leslieruf's picture
leslieruf

thanks for inspiring us all ?

Leslie

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I was never very good at sports although I played most, and my dancing stinks, etc.  But I guess this is one skill that I caught on to.  Somewhat late in life.  So happy to be able to share it with others, as you all do as well.

Thanks once more, alan

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Thats how my wife recently described some lamination I was doing and it occurred to me that baking is very much like architecture - these photos are a great example of the incredible form that can be achieved with dough and heat - this is something that could be blown up and put in a art gallery.  It also a bit Andy Warhol-esque very cool ! 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Our one day in Hiroshima at some museum back in 2000. I actually did send two photos into Costco Photo Center last year and have them printed on canvas for the kitchen wall.

thanks, alan

PalwithnoovenP's picture
PalwithnoovenP

Nothing more to say. They all have that same alfanso look no matter what variant they are.

alfanso's picture
alfanso

to make 105% hydration WW baguettes.  Not a pretty picture.

thanks, alan

SusanMcKennaGrant's picture
SusanMcKennaGrant

  masterful....

alfanso's picture
alfanso

for the kind words Susan.  alan 

Yippee's picture
Yippee

I'm speechless...

Happy New Year, Alan!

Yippee

alfanso's picture
alfanso

displaying their really quality fair these days on TFL.  A nice feeling that I might be considered one of them.

thanks, alan

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

I got my fix! Just awesome!

alfanso's picture
alfanso

and select a bunch to display.  I think I have another set, a little different, to post in the next few days too.

thanks, alan

isand66's picture
isand66

My first bake this year were a sad attempt at baguettes which were a disaster.  I screwed up my timing and it the worse bake of the year :).

I have decided to try and become at least semi competent on baguettes this year but have to wait until I stop traveling so much.  Off to Vegas for CES show and Germany later this month for more shows. You are lucky you escaped NY before the storm.  Today the wind is howling and it's freezing cold.

You need to sneak at least one boule in there!  You may kill off half the TFL audience by giving them a heart attack!

 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

ya know, I can't remember the last time I made a boule.  It was probably a few years ago now.  I still have a diminishing warehouse of breads that I had my eye on since my Oct. diet had me cut back almost all bread.  Thankfully, I've ratcheted down and been back to my bakes and morning toast.

Got lucky and had that one day of minimal snow, but brought back my standard winter gift from the city - a sore throat.  I'm not built for NE weather, and even though I escaped back in '89, that was about a decade later than I would have liked to have been gone.

You know yourself that the only way to do it - is to do it!  As I recommended earlier in these comments, try the Vermont SD for learning-curve baguettes.  They don't come much easier.  Or for a (yikes!) IDY bread, try the Bouabsa which is simple.  And really tasty from a 20+ hour nap in retard.

thanks, alan

Fieldsofgold's picture
Fieldsofgold

This post is probably the prettiest thing I've ever seen. I can smell them.?

alfanso's picture
alfanso

that you smell ;-) .  Thanks.  Consistency has been a big thing for me and I spent a lot of time pretty much doing nothing but baguettes.  Somewhere along the line, I saw this angle for taking pictures of bread and kind of adopted it for my own.

alan

Fieldsofgold's picture
Fieldsofgold

... they look amazing. I have this exam in April that I have to focus on but after that, I am going to focus on baguettes and have every intention to steal your recipe and may be angle [with permission] ...  carbs, carbs, carbs :-))