The Fresh Loaf

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Maurizio's baguette - upping the ante

alfanso's picture

Maurizio's baguette - upping the ante

Or at least upping the hydration.  My first two runs had the hydration at the prescribed 73% and then 70%.  That first at 73 presented issues with a too sticky dough being difficult to shape and then to extricate from a heavily floured couche.  The subsequent run at 70 yielded much better results as I documented earlier.

Not being satisfied enough with not being satisfied enough, and with a "lot" more experience, I threw some caution to the wind and ran with a 75% hydration.  The dough unsurprisingly was wetter to begin my pinch and folds and then French Folds, but once I breached the 20 FF mark everything settled down and continued as documented before.  

I could have had some better scores on two of these, particularly at the first two entries of the blade, in fact on the initial scores of all four baguettes.  But overall I'd classify this run as a success.

The dough was as soft and compliant as could be during the shaping and maintained a very workable and soft slackness to it.  In many ways it was quite a positive experience shaping these.  As soft as newly-fallen snow and the dough just about rolled itself out.

Again onto a well floured couche.  No problems releasing them from the couche to get onto the hand peel.


  • The levain was mixed and then placed into my wine cooler at 65dF for approximately a full calendar day.  It was very bubbly on the surface and had just begun to recede as it approached its limit of food supply.  
  • The levain was added to the final mix at that 65 degree temp. So the final mix completed at 76dF instead of my typical 78.
  • An increase from 10 to 30 min. between pre-shape and shaping.  I'll continue doing this going forward as the shaping has shown signs of improvement with the additional rest period.
  • Less flour on the bench for shaping.
  • 20-25 min. out of retard vs. my typical 0 min. before placing them onto the baking peel.
  • The crumb still maintains that creamy color, likely due to an all-white flour bread where the FFs can't approximate anything more than a short mix.
  • The area that has a tight crumb corresponds exactly with the two scores that had minimal oven spring.


  • A third run was "necessary to understanding" this dough.
  • I don't see much advantage of going from 70% to 75% hydration, except for the challenge of doing it.
  • I continue to get better at handling slack doughs at shaping time.  But I still prefer to work with stiffer doughs.
  • I've learned to let the dough rest longer between pre-shape and shape phases.
  • Another in the growing list of understanding control of the process through time and temperature.  Re: the levain build in the wine cooler. 
  • I never stop learning.

Getting ready to load

Steam released, baguettes rotated.

Top view.


Bird's eye view of crumb.

Snail's eye view of crumb

Considering the difficulty experienced in the first 73% run, I can say that I am pleased with the outcome.



not.a.crumb.left's picture

and I love the blisters and how thin that crust looks with that amazing scoring!

Just in time to be inspired as I have more Maurizio SD baguette dough in the wine cooler for the cold bulk over night.......

It is interesting what you say about the levain in the wine cooler as I do my routine starter re-fresh in the morning and evening at room temp 22C (3c warmer than your wine cooler) but rather than creating a separate leaven I just use what is needed from my making baguettes becomes really easy as it seems to work well with my older mature starter.....

I have also found that a longer rest after pre-shape works well and try that again....  well the rest of the process I can only say that I totally agree with the continuous learning....

Beautiful Bake!    Kat

alfanso's picture

between pre-shape and shape as my standard M.O., I finally tried giving it a half hour.  So now I have two consecutive experiences under my belt with a 30 minute rest.  And I'll continue in this vein until I'm swayed otherwise.

Thanks for the support and kind words, alan

WatertownNewbie's picture

Great results.  Your scoring is plenty fine.  I am curious about the "less flour during shaping" aspect of this bake.  Were you using too much flour before?  Or simply found that you could work the dough with only a little flour?

Thanks as always for your baguette posts.  I am inspired, but probably not yet ready, to tackle these.

alfanso's picture

at 73%, these were soft, completely manageable and hardly sticky at 75%.  Go figure!  On the second run at 70%, I erred on the side of caution and used a bit more flour on the bench than the first run.  So it speaks to your thought that I was using less flour.  I'm not big on rustic looking breads for myself and like to work with as little flour as possible during shaping and retard on the couche.  However, I wasn't taking any chances with the couche.  Fortunately, the dough did not pick up much flour from the couche nor adhere to it. 

thanks, alan

DanAyo's picture

Your loaves have that “alfanso signature” look. The colors are typical Alan, and they look great.

Showing us the shaped dough is informative. The more I study images relating to scoring, the more convinced I become of the importance of things other than the actual scoring. I think if I was in your kitchen and scored your dough, then had you bake it, my scores would look MUCH better. Scoring is important but I am beginning to focus on other things besides just the score. The dough has to be ready for the blade and the oven setup to bloom the dough. At least, that is my thoughts.

Question - why is the crumb near the crust dense, but the center is open? I have gotten the same exact results. Is it the formula, the handling or what?


alfanso's picture

I've mentioned this before, but everything has a downstream effect.  Errors in measuring, mixing, bulk rise.  Makes me think of how in my days in IT the later a defect was discovered the more costly the fix.

We recently touched on the denser crumb, and I really can't address that one either.  I can say that in the photo of my crumb the denser area is also the narrower end, and again, I know that it was because the scores right there didn't bloom well.

thanks, alan

And yes, they do have that look.  I feel that this is a hallmark of consistency, so I'm quite happy that my bakes frequently exhibit that.

Cedarmountain's picture

The baguettes are beautiful and have your "signature" look and finish...certainly as good if not better than any I have seen elsewhere.  Time to re-title your post from "Maurizio's baguette - upping the ante" to  "Alfanso's baguette - upping the ante"?

alfanso's picture

If I had to knock off a few hundred a day during part of a shift instead of four at my leisure, I'm not so certain that I'd be able to pull it off.  When I change something that others have done I'll sometimes label it "alfanso-style:.  But these are still Maurizio's.

thanks, alan

DesigningWoman's picture

except "Bravo Alfanso" (again). Merveilleux.


alfanso's picture

 to be able to up the hydration and still have a good bake vs. my first run.


thanks, alan

PalwithnoovenP's picture

Lovely baguettes! I think it's your experience that made this one turn out better than you 73%.

alfanso's picture

was getting familiar with the dough at the shaping phase.  That helped immensely.

thanks, alan

Ru007's picture

The crumb is so open, wow! The crust is beautiful with those blisters.

It's really nice to hear you say that you're still learning, even with such phenomenal results. It's encouraging for the rest of us who haven't got as much experience to just keep baking :)

Great post and happy baking


alfanso's picture

what a few others who have baked this have for a crumb, they are out in front with a lacier look.  No complaints on my part and kudos to them.

Although I'm lazy a fair share of the time - especially now that I have a wealth of retirement years to my credit, I am always learning new things.  So this tasty pastime is really no different.  I'm not particularly adventurous but I desire to get better all the time, even by inches at a time.

thanks, alan

Isand66's picture

Well, if these were perfect yiu would have nothing left to bake!  They look certainly good enough to eat and must taste great.  Like the idea of the longer rest before final shaping and will keep that in mind next time I tackle baggies.

Happy Baking!


alfanso's picture

to the shorter 10 minute rest, but these past two bakes may have convinced me otherwise.

thanks, alan

allwaysgrowing's picture

G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S !!!!  Looks like it came from a Paris bakery!!

alfanso's picture

Still has a way to go for a Paris bakery, but I'll gladly accept the comparison.


Doc.Dough's picture

The thing that strikes me is the clear under proofing that makes the loaf completely devoid of any evident bubbles just below the surface.  And in the crumb shot we see why - there are no bubbles just below the crust. Do you have any idea what produces large bubbles in the middle of the loaf and none at the surface?  I have baked loaves like that but always considered it to be an insufficient bulk ferment or a short proof.  And more recent results point to a short or incomplete BF more than a short final proof.  I really like the clean scoring which I associate with nice ears (which definitely showed up for you here).

alfanso's picture

who baked this have that "trademark" lacy look to the crumb.  I just went back and looked at the photos of the 70% & 73% hydration runs and they exhibit that same odd bubbling.  I think that even though it was only two years ago, my handling has become more gentle over time and I wonder if I violated the golden rule of iron fist inside velvet glove.  So I scratched my head then as now over why they decided to take  on that structure and I'm uncertain whether I've see it on any bread other than these.

As far as bubbles just under the surface - with the exception of a ballooning out type of bubble that I purposely pop, and those are fairly rare, I don't recall ever seeing any just below the surface.  So that image on my countertop is unknown to me.  

If you want to kill 10 minutes of otherwise good time, the link at the top goes to a post on the baking of this bread with video that shows my handling of the dough at two different hydrations.

For whatever reason aside from the time it took to learn the skill, I don't find scoring much of a challenge.  I also rarely score warm dough, so I have the advantage of addressing dough that is stiffer from retard.  I imagine that some folks pontificate and may even take practice strokes ala golf strokes, approaching the task with the greatest of reverence.  But as you can see in the video, it is "just another day at the office" for me, so to speak/type.  Well, my last actual day at the office for me was sometime in March, 2003.