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Baguette..technical

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Baguette..technical

Hello fellow bakers,

I thought i was alone, after reading many of the comments (of getting confused by too much info from online recipes) I realized I was not. My challenge has been "the baguette", and after going through most of the recipes some questions are still lingering and I'm reaching out for your help. I managed to get the shape, crumb, crust right (as i desire it). But I am working on the taste and my challenge is to have longer fermentations with least possible amount of yeast (instant is what I have, and for all the fresh sourdough starter fans, I can say I failed miserably at doing a fresh levant)...so im working purely using the poolish method.  If anyone out there can help with the following questions I would appreciate it.

1) If I want a longer fermentation time for my main dough mix (bulk fermentation stage), then what percentage poolish would you advise me to use. (I use a % from total flour amount). Right now I have been working with 34%...but is it better to opt for 50% of poolish to get a longer bulk fermentation time, also emitting yeast from dough mix (taking into account the next question).

2) Some Recipes use instant yeast for poolish and main dough mix and others only in poolish. I use 0.03% of poolish flour for a 16 hour pre ferment. If I want a longer fermentation as in question(1) and am looking to use the least amount of instant yeast as possible - i prefer my yeast to come naturally from the poolish), then do i need yeast in my main dough mix? if i emit the yeast from the main dough mix, will my bread still rise equally during bulk fermentation/ baking . To get max rise/bloom what percentage should of flour should I use for my poolish flour. 

3) Some recipes call for warm water in the final dough mix (32℃/90℉)...if i want to decrease bulk fermentation time, I am deducting that i use room temp water instead, unless the warm water has a different reason for being there.

4) Some recipes call for 3 stretch and folds (S&F) other for 6. What do i go with if (not sure if mixing with mixer vs. by hand effects this number). the S&F are done to strengthen gluten, so what is my bench mark. 

5) Is there a minimum yeast% I can work with/is recommended (from baker's percentage) for overall baguette recipe.

5) Any recommendation for a ONE great book to own on bread making, if i want to have it as my bible/reference. Thats more versatile (ie incorporates a wide array of bread techniques)

 

Thank you in advance. (:

Keen covid baker. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Hi, and welcome to the TFL world of baguettes.  Although I generally do not do yeasted baguettes, I cut my teeth, as others on TFL have done, with the baguette associated with Parisian baker Anis Bouabsa.  It is as simple as can be.  With approximately a 20 hour retard before proofing/baking, it uses an insanely small amount of IDY and is a straight dough without any preferment.  The time in retard is what gives this dough its outstanding characteristics and flavor.  

You can search TFL for Bouabsa and see a lot of references to it, including mine as well as those of MTLoaf, who makes the most outstanding version of this (literally) award wining bread.  You can see an example of his Bouabsa here in a compendium of our Community Bake for baguettes from last summer.  Follow the link for Don's Bakes on page 3.

This formula and method will answer your first 5 questions.

The most recognized and complete bread baking book is called "Bread" and written by Jeffrey Hamelman, the former head baker at King Arthur flour and bakery.  The current, 2nd. edition, is available but will soon be supplanted by a 3rd edition.

Benito's picture
Benito

All that needs to be said is that I agree with everything that Alan just said.  Listen to him and do yourself a favour, the Bouabsa is an excellent yeasted baguette formula.

Benny

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Thanks Benny. I will try that. 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Thank you Alan. For this comprehensive response. I loved the Bouabsa recipe/process. I will attempt (:

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

It says in image u have attached of his recipe “Retard for a total of 20 hrs. At some point a few hours in, divide preshape and shape dough into baguette” 

I’m a little confused about “at some point a few hours in”. Is this towards the end of cold retard do I do the divide and shape. So I keep them in fridge shaped as baguettes or last hour of the retard I do the shaping. 

maybe this is obvious to some. But I’m a little confused. 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I've found that it is of little import at what point along the retard period I pulled the bulk dough, shape and then return to retard.  As long as I've given the dough a few hours of retard time.  And as little as a scant amount of time before baking.  But I like to give the dough at least 2-3 hours of retard before and after shaping.

One of the "joys" of long retards is providing me the freedom of scheduling activities on my own timetable, rather than slavishly watching the minutes on the clock for a next activity.  As long as I abide by the general guidelines, I've found none or not much difference at all when I shape. 

75% hydration seems like a high hydration for an all AP flour dough, and it is.  But this this formula and technique makes the dough quite compliant.  You will also notice a remarkable extensibility and growth on this dough within the short 1 hour bulk ferment time. 

Word of caution - Depending on your flour's ability to absorb water and protein strength, the hydration may be a little high.  Here in North America the flour tends to be more absorbent and stronger than, for example, in the UK.

 The bassinage is an important step in the dough's ability to both absorb more water and strengthen during mixing. 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Hi Alfonso

What a coincidence was just watching ur video on YouTube before u sent this message. Extremely helpful. The original recipe calls for about 100 ff with 5min rest in between the first 50. I’m curious how come u do like 300. Does this have to do with the type of flour ur using. Have a grt day

 

Mais

alfanso's picture
alfanso

 on the other side of the country very early on.  Since then, as we all should, I've continued to learn and change my technique.  Hopefully for the better, but I'll reserve the right to continue to learn and update my methods ;-) .  

So yes, the initial was 200, then 300 FFs by the time of the video.  That was significantly pared down after discussions with MTLoaf in the past year, and now I rarely ever do any more than a total of 100 FFs with the five minute relax between.  The current formula reflects that change.

If you are mixing by hand with French Folds, exercise great care for the first dozen or more, or you will be peeling wet dough off everything near and far!

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Also on ur YouTube video u give it about approximately 1 hr after shaping. Here uv mentioned 2-3. 

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I hope the recipe is successful for you. The formula is a winner but the process is up to you. I look forward to seeing how it works for you. Baguettes more than anything require practice, practice, practice. Post a photo of your bake here or in the Baguette Community Bake so we can see your progress and recommend adjustments. 

Don

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Hi Don 

 

thanks for the welcome. I did come across another recipe which I tried. Only thing I had reservations about was 0.39% lDY amount (which was still little in comparison to many other recipes). Like mentioned I wanted something much less. But it’s a great recipe. It rises/blooms while baking quiet successfully. I was pleased with my result. The only thing is I would mix by hand and use Bouabasa method (ff...just before cold retard). Here is recipe and photo. My Bouabasa is in the fridge now. Doing 9 baguettes for a fam trip. Hope it works out well. I think my fam think I’m like a professional baker store. 9!!! But as a start it felt very right as I was working the dough. 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine
MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Has anyone tried the Bouabasa recipe with fresh yeast (instead of IDY)

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

2 things on taste:

1. I realize you're using and sticking with commercial yeast, but eventually you may get around to exploring the additional multiple dimensions of flavor with levain.  That's for the future.

2. Flavor is also about the flour -- the flour, the flour, the F L O U R.  

Flour is not flour is not flour.  Even with white flour -- white flour is not white flour is not white flour.

You likely already know how just a tiny amount of whole wheat, corn meal, spelt or rye can improve the flavor of a baguette.

But there are many widely different possibilities for the white flour too.

Even to the experienced bakers, such as DanAyo, Kendalm, and MTLoaf, they were extremely amazed at the taste difference they experienced using imported French T65 flour, by Moulin d'auguste, imported to the US by lepicerie.com

That is too expensive for the hobbyist family baker, unless you're charging for your loaves.

But here is a lesser-known fact:

US commercial bakery/restaurant flour, purchased from the commercial distribution channels in 50 pound bags, (or directly from millers such as www.centralmilling.com or  www.giustos.com) is noticeably fresher than what is on local grocers' shelves.

If your city or town has a bakery/restaurant supplier of General Mills flour products, you can likely tap into this supply of very fresh flour. The turn-over of inventory is fast. And because so many restaurants have closed, those wholesalers are now selling to the public. 

I made a list of all General Mills unbromated/unbleached flours that are higher than 11% protein, here: https://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/62291/experience-w-general-mills-50-lb-flour

and for baguettes, some flours in the 10 - 11 % will do fine too.

To see even more, and to find your nearest distributor (assuming you are in the US) go here: https://www.generalmillscf.com/products/category/flour

At the level of making 9  baguette batches, you will likely go through 50 pounds before it ages too much. Transfering the flour to a sealed bucket may also buy more time before it loses flavor.

Bon chance et bon appétit.

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Hi. Thanks for flour info. Ur kind of lucky in a way as u can buy flour in the states that has all the info like protein content...right now I’m visiting my family in Jordan so there are one or two options. But back home (egypt). This does not exist. Luckily I inherited great food recipes from many generations of women in my family (Syrian, Palestinian dishes) but both my mom and grandma knew nothing about bread making. So I took it up as a challenge with the start of covid. And to my luck my first tutor was a woman who comes from a farming family from upper egypt who has learnt bread recipes and techniques dating back to the Pharos (I’m not exaggerating). I totally get what u say about flour. For them I noticed they become familiar with the flour like they would a human being. I am hoping I can become that one day. Know “oh, this feels like a low protein flour” “it needs more water”. But good thing, I’m hoping that I can get hold of milled flour directly from farmers. So bleach does not even exist. But that’s a whole challenge all together. 

A nice story about bread. U know in upper egypt they have an ancient bread which they do till this day called “sun bread” it’s got something to do with fermentation and sun. Anyways. That’s not the story. So they also traditionally use levain. But not as we have come to know it. So if a woman wants to bake bread (and it’s almost 100% of the time the women are the bakers”. So anyways. When they want to make bread they would go to the neighbors and ask for some yeast (levain). And same goes for the neighbors as well (Each household feeds the levain on a day when she wants to bake, ie it’s not one person feeding it on daily basis- the process is shared amongst them. Anyways. They have had a levain going amongst them and it’s origin is unknown. So it could really be the Pharos levain (:

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy
MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Amazing. Thank you. Can’t believe this info is here. Been so interested in this topic but have not gottten around to exploring it. 

idaveindy's picture
idaveindy

عفوًا  (I hope that's "afwan.")

 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

yes it is (:

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

The result 

My observations of my (1st) attempt at Anis Bouabsa’s recipe:

 

  • After cold retard. Divide dough into portions when dough is cold. As bringing the bulk fermented dough to room temp looses the later effect of of cooler shaped baguettes being shocked by excessive heat and sort of exploding (full rise). I say this confidently because I had to bake 9 baguettes in my home oven. (Only three at a time). And the ones which went in proofed (but not fully risen/expanded - ie the ones which stayed sitting for least amount of time) - the first ones- really rose in the oven. It was like the yeast activity got a sudden wake up call. 
  • Alfanso: thank you for the water on counter tip. From ur previous video. I avoided using any extra flour during portioning resting, (and used an oil and did not leave the portioned balls to rest on flour). I only used flour at the end when shaping into baguette shapes for proof on Couche. This way the dough stayed hydrated. Also for the razor dipped in oil. It gives this extra browning to the scored edges 
  • Crust: well from a previous recipe I used this metal cover tip for the first 13 min of bake in oven. For those who like a crunchy but softer crust (more gentle on chewing) this is really advisable. It gives a crunch but not hardness. Photo attached. No need to add water in oven for steam, as the stainless steel cover does that job. But more subtly (without extra hardness). I preheat stainless steel cover inside oven. 
Benito's picture
Benito

Beautiful baguettes, very very well done.  

Benny

alfanso's picture
alfanso

The oven spring on these baguettes is something to take notice of!  It is a standard "feature" of this dough.  Isn't it amazing how so little yeast can create so marvelous a baguette?

Your scoring is right on target, as well as shaping.  We already know from the other really nice baguettes that you've posted and what you wrote, that this isn't the first time around the block for you and baguettes.  Nonetheless, it takes some people an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get the proper shaping and scoring technique down.  And you are there!  

I use the oil dip on the tip to avoid the blade dragging through the dough.  At this stage, it is more of an old habit than a necessity, but I do it "for old time's sake".

Now your family will become all the more demanding of your oven skills!

Alan  

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

Of baguettes you have there. The shaping and scoring looks good and the oven set up seems to work well. This recipe relies and provides a good oven spring which you got as well.  As your couche gets more seasoned less dusting flour will help lose the powdered donut look. We are big on crumb shots here so please show us a good photo of the crumb if your family hasn’t already devoured them. I hope the taste is what you have been searching for. 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

My own feeing about crumb. (Managed a few shots before they disappeared (: 

The way it looks was fine. Maybe I over did it on flour at rolling stage so there were still apparent divisions in some parts of the role. 

the crumb was a little stiff. It could be two things. 
1) the type of flour. I used a combination of three flours I had at home. About a third 13% protein 00 flour. Like 2/3rds 10% protein regular flour. And from that I added like a cup of durum flour. I did that as I wanted to increase the 10% that came from 2/3 10%. 

2) from looking at Alan’s video as he was letter folding my dough was not as elastic. So maybe I needed to do more. 

in all frankness not sure. If my gluten was over or under kneaded. 

still learning (:

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

what you want out of it. Whether or not you are satisfied with the look and taste. If you wanted a more open crumb then I would say the durum probably did you no favors. You will see many great variations on baguettes here at TFL. I happen to prefer an all white yeasted version which the Bouabsa is all about. The flavor from the long bulk retard and the ease of handling the chilled dough is why it is my go to recipe. Your off to a good start so keep us posted.

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

This first experience with this platform has been super constructive and supportive. Bread is a real challenge 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

Beating our collective TFL chests...

As an aside, a person doing her doctoral thesis concentrated mostly on our mid-2020 Community Bake with baguettes for the basis of her work, having observed the interaction over the course of approximately 3 months.  She began her paper by writing -

"Contrary to cyberpessimist claims that virtual communities are not real communities, I argue that TFL was a dynamic and uniquely welcoming, supportive and generous online community. Within this community, TFLers honed their bread-baking skills in relationship both with the other members of the website and with their starters, living things that TFLers cultivated and nurtured. These relationships, in turn, facilitated the formation of wider human social relationships as TFLers shared their breads and starters with friends, neighbours and strangers."

And, as you can imagine, we are quite proud of that, and have TFL founder Floyd to thank for creating this vibrant community, and to Dan for fomenting the CB as a community within a community.

If you, as a bread baker, were looking for a "cyber-home", I think that you just may have found it.

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

Hi Alan. 
just saw ur response. I so truly agree. This is the first times for me on a forum and I really felt this constructive energy. Where conversations and discussions actually lead to building constructively on a project (vs some of the negative vice existing with social media platforms - in my opinion they suck the energy out of u and leave u feeling non productive- that’s my personal experience). Thank you Floyd and Dan for all this. 

MaisPalestine's picture
MaisPalestine

So I’m back in cairo (after comfortably getting used to baking in Jordan my second home). Had a conversation with quality control for one of Egypt’s leading flour companies. I understood a little. Just about to bake my first batch of anis’s recipe. There is something which is still confusing me.

 

after cold retard of 21 hrs or so. 

do I divide dough (pre shape) and shape when dough is cold. Or do I preshape leave for a bit (if this is case for how long) and then shape. And how long is a period of final proof at shaping. 

thank you 

alfanso's picture
alfanso

I think that Don (MTloaf) shapes his before retard.  I like to work with dough that has the added feature of having been chilled first, so I retard for a few hours first, then back to retard.  But I've also shaped it immediately as wells at the end of the retard - when I was final proofing.  But I bake directly out of retard.  Oven has been preheated and pre-steamed, then dough comes out of the refrigerator and directly onto the baking peel and into the oven.  No warmup for me!

I think that this point is open for interpretation, and the more practice and skill the baker has, the greater their ability to shift and change how the action ensues.  And that's where some of the fun comes in - changing around what will work best for you, your schedule, space constraints, etc.  There is no right answer.

It is quite possible that in a small bakery like Mr. Bouabsa's where space is limited (I've been there), he may leave the dough to retard in bulk for the entire time due to space constraints.

MTloaf's picture
MTloaf

I turn the oven on to preheat at 480F degrees and take the dough out at the same time. After 10 minutes I divide and pre- shape. I do a loose seam up letter fold trying to make sure the sticky part is not exposed. They will relax and seem to grow some in about 15 minutes. The dough still has a chill when I shape it and place them seam up in the couche. I generally proof for a half hour or more until I see faint gray bubbles inside them. The finger poke works well for judging the proof. Total elapsed time is an hour from the fridge to oven. I prefer not to retard shaped baguettes because I worry about the skin drying out too much and getting thick crust. If I do a large batch I just make smaller batches and take them out in stages.

The 21 hours varies for me depending on how much it rose before and during retarding which is critical to the success of this recipe. As soon as I see movement after the last fold or bubbles that tell me the yeast is working is when I put it in the fridge. Sometimes I do a fold after it has been in the fridge which is even more important for larger amounts to equal out the chill down. I would guess the dough doubles by the end of the bulk ferment. If the dough is bulked too long it gets large gas bubbles(which affects the flavor)or if you put too much tension in the pre-shape they get quite elastic and difficult too elongate.

This is what works for me but your results may vary

Don

Briancoat's picture
Briancoat

Last night we had shop “baguette” from M&S and it was just long “factory bread” with a lot of sugar and very poor crust & crumb; so inspired by you lot, I decided to have a go myself.

I made regular levain bread but longer and it worked well, with good crust and big bubbles, mmm!

Recipe: 280g T65 (Grand Siecle) plus 280g water, rest 2h and add 160g recently fed and risen starter plus 140g T65 (=72%). 8g salt. Mix. Over 3h, 4x stretch & fold. Shape to tension. Fridge overnight. Oven on full whack. Slash & cover with a tin. Bake 10 mins. Lid off then 2-4  more min.

M&S never again!