The Fresh Loaf

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Baguette adventures round 5: Finally a good one

tortie-tabby's picture

Baguette adventures round 5: Finally a good one

Hi, I've been making baguettes every weekend. This is my fifth attempt, I made a blog post about my last one as well. I finally made one loaf I'm happy with. I took some advice I got from Alan and Dan and handled the dough more gently, let the dough autolyse before kneading, portioned the dough out before the cold ferment, and baked at 470 ˚F. I also watched some of their videos and kneaded the dough (this time 72% hydration) with 200 french folds.

I still didn't get enough oven spring for 2/3 baguettes. I think the main culprits might be 1. underdeveloped gluten, 2. over-handling the dough during shaping (I just can't seem to roll the dough out long enough without squishing it), 3. shallow scoring, and maybe 4. under-proving? Do you agree that these are my main problems? I'd love some feedback on how I can improve.

I'm not having my old problem of the loaves bursting at the seams or the sides, so at least there's progress on that front.



Finally one good baguette!

Cross section of one of the flatter loaves, crumb is close-textured but the crust was light.

Baguette on the top is the one that rose the most beautifully in the oven. It looks pillowier than the rest here, probably because I shaped it first and let it rest the longest. You can also see that it's the shortest loaf, that's because I didn't roll it/squish it as much as the others.



I've basically been modifying the KAF classic baguette recipe, at this point its only vaguely like the original. I've been sticking to this recipe just because I don't have a miligram scale for yeast and repeating and modifying one recipe is a good way for me to keep track of what changes I'm making.


    113 g cool water
    1/16 tsp SAF instant yeast
    120 g KAF AP flour


    All of the starter
    1 1/2 tsp SAF instant yeast
    274 g lukewarm water (for 72% hydration)
    418 g KAF AP flour
    1 1/2 tsp salt



  1. Mix everything to make the poolish, cover and rest at room temperature for 14 hrs.
  2. Add all the other ingredients except for salt into the starter and mixing until incorporated, then autolyse for 20 mins.
  3. Incorporate the salt and make 200 french folds.
  4. Place dough into a large bowl and S&F every 30 mins for 90 mins, a total of 3 rounds.
  5. Portion dough into 3 equal parts (roughly 300 g* each), shape lightly and place seam-side down into container. (*edited from 100 g, thanks Alan)
  6. Cold ferment in refrigerator for 24 hrs.
  7. Remove dough from fridge, make one gentle letter fold and let rest, covered, on counter for 30 mins.
  8. Preheat oven to 470 ˚F (regular bake, not convection) with a cast-iron pan in the bottom rack.
  9. Shape the dough by doing one letter fold and then one final seal where you bring the edge of the dough to the countertop. Roll out gently to prevent de-gassing.
  10. Rest, covered, on floured couche for 45 minutes.
  11. Boil 2 cups of water and transfer all three loaves to a well-floured peel.
  12. Score the loaves (see image) and load into oven, close oven door.
  13. Pour boiled water into cast iron pan and spray the loaves and oven walls generously with water.
  14. Close oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  15. Remove steam, set oven to 450 ˚F at convection and bake for another 14 minutes.
  16. Remove from oven immediately and let cool.



ElPanadero's picture


Your crumb looks great.

I'm no expert but I do occasionally make baggies and whilst volunteering in an artisan bakery we made plenty.

My instinct is that your dough isn't having time to properly warm up after being removed from the fridge.   After 24hrs in there the dough will be very cold and stiff/firm.   You're doing first shape immediately after taking it out, and then leaving it just 30mins before doing the final shaping.

I'm wondering therefore if the dough is still too firm at that stage to be able to easily stretch it out.


What I would do is remove the dough from the fridge and leave for 30 mins, THEN do the pre-shape into small fat logs

Then leave for another 15-20 mins covered

Then do the final shaping/sealing and rolling out

Hopefully this way the dough has more time to reach temperature and is more pliable for the rolling out part

What I suspect is happening for you is that the dough is still too stiff when you're rolling it out and then requiring you to apply more pressure to stretch it out and that results in squashing the crumb which in turn means less oven spring.

Just a theory.


The other thing I always do with baguettes is to put them into the fridge for 10 mins JUST BEFORE you want to score and bake them

This firms up the dough and makes scoring far far easier and you get straighter lines without dough dragging


Hope that helps


tortie-tabby's picture

Thank you!! That makes a lot of sense. Will definitely start letting the dough warm up for longer, I did feel like the gluten was a bit tough during the shaping. Your advice about putting them into the fridge before storing is really interesting. A couple of videos of professional bakeries that I've seen do exactly that, they take their baguettes straight out of the fridge to be scored and baked. I might also start calling them "baggies" from now on.

alfanso's picture

With improvements over last posted bake.

without an accurate scale, try this link for measuring very scant amounts:

The coloration from a more appropriate baking temp. is evident, and the bake took significantly less time than before.  The shaping is better, pre-bake.  Pretty fair crumb too.

Nitpicking - you refer to these as "100” grams per baguette, but I think that you mean somewhere a little over 300 grams each.

Shaping of dough should never involve "squishing".  Watch some videos of the pros rolling baguettes.  The preferred method is to have cupped hands over the dough, tips of fingers and heels of hands just about in contact with the work surface, and palms of hands resting softly on the dough.  And then roll outward from the center.  The old trope of "an iron hand inside a velvet glove".  But your post-shaping shape of the dough is quite good in terms of overall look.

if the dough will not roll out, but wants to spring back, it is an indication that the dough is too strong, but with a high hydration dough for baguettes, there should be little problem with extensibility.

I recommend scoring the dough directly from retard so that the dough is stiffer and will result in less drag of the blade, which may have been moved too slowly though the dough length.  However, really good control at keeping the scores on top and down the dough length with overlapped scores, whereas many beginners will violate each of those.  Again watch some videos of the pros doing it.

you won't get more oven spring unless your dough opens more on the scores.  Just no room inside the cocoon of the outer sheath to expand.

It seems as though there may not be a tight enough skin on the dough, and one of those trickery things.  How to treat the loaf with a certain gentle touch as also a tight roll.  Just a matter of practice after acquiring more knowledge of what to expect.

Try giving the mix a five minute rest between sets of French  Folds - ex.  100 FFs, 5 minute covered rest, 100 FFs.  You will be pleased at the condition and feel of the dough after just a 5 minute rest between the sets of folds.

unless you are using using insignificant amounts of IDY, a 90 minute bench bulk fermentation followed by 24 hours is really pushing it.  M. Bouabsa uses only 60 minutes of BF, followed by ~21 hours of retard time.

dough should go from pre-shape to a short bench rest to final shaping without any intermediate manipulation.

try placing the dough back in retard before scoring and baking.  Again, the time for the dough to cool down will help your scoring and, after all that BF and retard time, prevent the dough from over proofing.

after releasing steam, rotate the dough left to right, front to back to allow for a more even bake across all dough in the oven.

vent the baguettes in the oven for 2-3 minutes after the bake has completed to allow them to shed some additional moisture.

lots to think about and how you wish to see whether this advice will work for you.  But you are certainly on the right track.

tortie-tabby's picture

Thank you again!

Okay. Will keep baking at 470 ˚F, I agree that the color looks better. The best-looking baguette was the one farthest inside the oven, maybe temperature contributed to its rise. I've never heard of the adage about the iron glove, I will definitely try to be even more gentle. I'll try chilling the dough for 10 minutes before I score it, ElPanadero also suggested this. I'll space my french folds out and S&F at 20 minute intervals to reduce bulk fermentation time. And lastly, I will pay more attention to tightness of the skin, I think this will make a big difference, I've noticed professionals really emphasize this part during the pre-shaping, I'll work on it.

At this point I've noticed, especially if I do 300 french folds and reduce the intervals of time between bouts of S&F that my recipe is getting closer to your Bouabsa formula. Honestly maybe I'm too attached to this KAF recipe and trying to "get it right". I not even really following it anymore anyways. We'll see how this next round goes but I think I'll purchase a milligram scale soon.

One actual question-- I've seen all these videos where they intentionally flatten the dough out before the final shape. How!! The first video only does a final proof for 45-60 minutes, I suspect all the others do too. They're not proving for longer than me yet they still attain a more open crumb. Is it because they've developed more gluten not cold fermented for as long?

alfanso's picture

on a minor stretch I’ll take a pot shot at this. I have baker friends who deal with baguette dough.  The dough gets started with a poolish and then mixed the following morning. If I’m not mistaken the dough is left to rise with no folds of any kind. And the divided...

so a SWAG is that the bakers in the videos   may also not perform any mid-BF folds.  A “best guess” is that their handling of the dough may equate to the S&Fs lacking in the BF.  Fresh yeast (or IDY) is more potent than Levain.

Therefore the rest time to prove the couched dough provides an opportunity for the yeast to resume its work and the aggressive activity on the dough is used to degas and reorg the gluten. 

Feel free to parry this as is merely a somewhat educated guess. 

alfanso's picture

Scott MaGee does indeed fold the dough  during BF. And he does so pretty gently. And you should note that he is the only one of the three that treats the shaping also gently without beating the dough to a pulp.

tortie-tabby's picture

Thanks for the answers. The part about fresh yeast being more active makes a lot of sense. It does seem like professional bakers use much more... robust?? recipes? I feel like I'm doing everything little thing I can to the t and still not getting things right. I suppose with practice you know what liberties you can take and which steps are actually essential to the quality of the final product.