The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Baguette help!

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

Baguette help!

Hi everyone! So after much building up of courage I finally decided to try baguettes after my wife bought me a baking stone and... I have questions! First, I’m not sure if this is the best recipe to start with but I decided to give it a go using the French bread recipe from bread bakers apprentice. I know I made one mistake by forgetting to put my cast iron pan at the bottom for steam so I’ll have to remember that next time. I’ll just start with two questions I have and go from there. The first is, he says you can shape the dough using a lightly oiled counter. I tried that and I just couldn’t get the seams to stick together very well and the dough just stuck to my hand while trying to press the seams in. In fact the seams broke open on the bottom. Are there any good tips for getting the seams to stick together? Should I not use oil to prep them? My second question is, I tried to roll out the baguettes into longer cylinders but they just sort of stayed the same shape and got rather lopsided in the process. I tried watching a few videos but I’m still confused. My understanding is that you try to apply pressure while rocking back and forth but I couldn’t quite get it to lengthen very much :( any tips for that? Thanks all!


 

kendalm's picture
kendalm

Yah, oil doesnt show up at all when dealing with baguettes at all, although we have one rule breaker here who slicks his blade with olive oil.  He will most certain plop a comment here as we have a gang of baguetteurs who jump all over posts like this.  I have no idea why and who would recommend oil in the countertop - you will NEVER see a vid of a baker oiling the counter.  

As for shaping well sounds like your dough isnt relaxed enough.  Before rolling you need to rest your preshape for 20 mins + to restore extensibility.  Now for elongation please try not to stretch and roll but rather press down and roll making sure to keep tabs (visually) where there are thick spot as this is where you want to apply downward force   streching is ok when youre nearly done but you need to stretch from the tips.  If you dont do it this way you will likely kink your cylinder.  Other than that the other advice is to make them over and over and over.  It just takes a lot of practice.  good luck ! 

 

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

Good to know! I’ll try not using oil next time. Maybe just flour? Also thanks for the shaping tips. I didn’t let it rest very long and I did use stretching so I’ll try using the method you outlined next time! When I see videos they don’t seem to move their hands much along the baguette it just rolls out but when I try pressing it just gets squished... is there a specific sort of hand hold I should be using? 

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

A pleasure to make your acquaintance. 

 I will leave it to the pros, to dissect your particular bake. However, my last two blog entries when taken together may be of help to you. If you should have any questions about my experience please don't hesitate to ask. I would also recommend you spend some time reading the community bake PDF. The PDF chronicles the community bake journey of four skilled bakers. Both links are below.

Redemption

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/up/tfl-baguette-community-bake.pdf

Benito's picture
Benito

I agree with Geremy (kendalm) that I’ve never heard of anyone oiling their countertop when shaping baguettes.  Lightly flour the countertop or better yet, have a small amount of flour on the counter away from where you are going to shape, then plop your dough on it to lightly flour it.

You need to give your dough time to relax after preshaping, usually 20-30 mins is enough.  Also if you’ve used a high protein flour that might also be working against your ability to shape your baguettes.

A group of us spent several months working on our baguette skills this summer while doing the Community Bake Baguettes and Alan spent a good deal of time summarizing and creating a PDF of our bakes to make it easier for someone to go through who was interested in learning how to bake baguettes that PDF is here.

I also wrote an article on Breadtopia outlining in detail my process for making baguettes that article is here.

Hopefully you’ll find some useful information in the above.  My article also contains videos I created demonstrating some of the things described in the article.

Benny

kendalm's picture
kendalm

That sure takes a lot of effort to assemble good content (copy) and also video content.  I for one am just to lazy to do that and so really admire the effort.  You got some good comments and disciples too.  Now we have to call you Dr. B ! 

Benito's picture
Benito

Firstly no need to call me Dr. B, secondly, you would be able to write a much better article Geremy.  Your baguettes skills are much more advanced than mine.  But I appreciate you positive comments on the article, I’m almost embarrassed to post it here knowing the lot of you who are far more advanced than I am might see it.  But I thought it might be helpful to the OP.

Benny

The Roadside Pie King's picture
The Roadside Pi...

You truly are multi-talented! I noticed you put your steaming apparatus above the bread, That makes a lot of sense.

Benito's picture
Benito

Thank you Will, that is nice of you to say.

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

Thanks for sharing the pdf. I’ll be sure to read up on it later :) 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

Rick:  Your photo hints at some funkiness with your oven.

  • Is it a gas oven?  
  • Did you use convection (fan) mode?  
  • Did you use a top (upper) heating element?

 

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

It’s a regular electric oven but it doesn’t heat very consistently so maybe that’s what you’re noticing? I don’t think I turned on the convection mode.

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

If not gas, no top heat (you did not use the broiler element), and no fan, my next guess would be a too high temp. What temp did you bake at?

alfanso's picture
alfanso

This is the French Bread formula from Mr. Reinhart.  He mentions oiling the dough ball not the counter.  Instead you may wish to coat the Bulk Ferment vessel with spray oil.  As far as the counter - what we are looking for for all doughs is to have the counter to "grip" the dough.  Oil makes the dough slide, just the opposite effect to want.  Oil will also impair your ability to form a tight seam, as it creates a slippery barrier between the parts of the dough to be sealed.

There are a ton of YouTube videos that do a nicely detailed job of walking you though the steps including shaping.  Try looking at the King Arthur Isolation Bake videos made this year by Martin Philip and Jeffrey Hamelman, these are master classes in explanations and technique.

All things considered, your shaping is pretty nice.  And the last piece of advice I'll give on improving your baguette skills - the first 10,000 are the hardest, after that it gets easy! 

Good luck and post the next few bakes too.

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

The one I’m using is on page 177. He says to use a lightly floured or an oiled counter, so I opted for oil but lesson learned :) I’ll definitely try using flour instead next time. Thanks for sharing those video recommendations, I’ll take a look. Only 9,999 to go! 

Rickenheimer's picture
Rickenheimer

I haven’t yet gotten around to looking at any of the good resources that have been shared so far. But I was wondering if there is a good beginners recipe that people would recommend that I try?