Feedback on baguettes & seam-sealing technique?
I've been making baguettes every weekend for two months now. I pulled all stops in this round, I made a poolish and did a 22-hour cold retard. I'll write up my entire process when I have time since I know that'll help people give me more targeted feedback. For now though I'd really appreciate some feedback on my final product and my technique for sealing the seams.
The recipe I used was basically the 68% hydration KAF classic baguette recipe, but with a 22-hour cold retard before shaping and baking. They were baked seam-side down for 10 minutes at 450 ˚F with steam and ice-cubes, then for 14 minutes at 450 ˚F with convection.
These are my best baguettes yet, they had the best flavor and crispiest crust. However, I don't think they had enough oven spring and the crumb is definitely too tight.
Sealing the seam
I think I sealed the seam pretty well (see video and pictures below). I baked all of the baguettes seam-side down but they still split along the sides, so I was wondering how I could still improve on this. Let me know what you think!
It's a little long so I recommend watching at x2 speed.
t-t, don't take offense at this when I state that it was near torturous watching the single baguette be worked on for minutes. I don't anticipate that someone else can work at my "speed", and I certainly cannot anticipate to work at a professional baker's speed either. That being said, it seems (seams?) that you are on the right track. So it's all incremental, baby steps for most of us.
First I'll state that even when the dough has been sealed correctly, I've found the occasional blowout just at the point where the dough meets the baking deck. And although I'm pretty good at keeping an eye on where the seam is and ensuring that it lands directly down on the deck, invariably there are those rare times when I'll lose track of where the seam really is . And will have to assume that the dough was twisted oh-so-slightly. Therefore a part of the seam winds up being shifted a few degrees north of where it should have been.
As a suggestion, and by no means am I the cat's meow (tabby!) when it comes to this feat, but I hope that you can glean a few bits of knowledge from reviewing these portions of some videos I've put out there these past few years. As I have mentioned elsewhere on TFL and in video, there's a hundred ways to do it right and a hundred ways to do it wrong as well. We each developer own style as we attempt to reach some equilibrium here.
The Bouabsa baguette, from ~5 years ago. This uses no preferment of any kind. https://youtu.be/tYvORu_oLYc?t=1603
Maurizio Leo's (ThePerfect Loaf) levain baguette. https://youtu.be/9d6gXUr9n2Q?t=415
As an aside, I think that 450 is too low for a baguette, or for most "artisan" breads. My suggestion is to have them bake at somewhere closer to 470dF-480dF for the steaming portion of the bake and then - if you are to use convection, which I don't, that is where you'll want to drop the temp down to about 450dF. Baguettes should not take anywhere near 30 minutes to bake. A more realistic timeframe is a total of 20-22 minutes for ~300g baguettes to reach ~205dF in the center.
Looking at the KAF formula, 68% is about right for a "classic" FWSY French "baguette tradition", and a good starting place, if not dropping down to ~65%-66% total hydration. I'd still give the final dough, poolish included, about a 20 minute autolyse before the final mixing. Allow the new flour to more completely hydrate prior to the final mix.
Hope this helps, alan
This is really helpful. In the back of my mind I was just working towards eventually being able to perform all the steps I did above, but faster. Instead, you've actually reminded me that being faster isn't the goal, the goal (which I've read about this before but forgot to pay it in mind) is to touch the dough as little as possible. Working on the dough for fewer minutes and decreasing time of contact is a by-product of this priority.
I'll definitely incorporate your suggestions into my next round of baking! I have looked at the Bouabsa recipe before, I don't have a miligram scale but I think this is a recipe I want to work up to.