Tip - Baguettes - a mindset when shaping
Being relatively new to all things baguettes, my struggles to succeed have taught me a few lessons. They are passed along with the hope that it may be of value to others. As is true of all “Tips -“, they are worthy of consideration, but not to be considered the “ultimate way” but only a “possible way”. If you queried every single baker in the world, no 2 of them would agree on all opinions and probably debate most of them.
Anyone who has set out to perfect a baguette is acutely aware of the difficulties of shaping the long stick of bread. Small errors are practically impossible to conceal. With that in mind I have a one word suggestion. “Stretch”
Most bakers “roll out” their dough. And many of them do an excellent job of it. But someone like me needs all the help they can get. So, after watching countless shaping videos in preparation for our Community Bake featuring Baguettes, I stumbled upon something that changed my baguette shaping in an instant.
When shaping a baguette dough “think STRETCHING” , not “rolling”
In my mind rolling implies rolling. You know, think about rolling out a pie crust with a rolling pin. There is downward pressure involved. Downward pressure has a tendency to squish the dough causing some areas to be smaller than others. As far as I know it is not possible to efficiently fatten a section that has become too skinny. But the thought of stretching implies elongation. Instead of downward pressure the hands move gently outward.
Clarification - the actual characteristics of the baguette dough must be taken into consideration. If your dough is very elastic (resist stretching and springs back to original length, stretching may be extremely difficult or possibly impossible. In this case, the best thing to do is put the dough aside to rest and come back later once it has relaxed.
Another consider that might be over looked is the pre-shape. In all other types of dough shapes (batards, boules, etc) we are conditioned to think “strength”. Baguettes are a different breed all together. When pre-shaping don’t forget the magic word, “stretch”. You may discover that a lighter pre-shaping is beneficial.
The information above may or may not benefit you, but it is worth considering and maybe even a try...
Here are a few video snippets that get right to the point -
Note - the entire videos from beginning to end are worth a look.
The tips below came from various bakers.
- The process of elongating a baguette shouldn’t take a long time with many tries. The very act of pursuing perfection when it comes to shaping can produce the opposite results.
- If the shaped dough is 60-70% of the baguettes final length, shaping will require much less time and handling. (KendalM & MTLoaf)