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  1. @Chris Hennes Thanks. And I like the idea of a progressive photo series. I wish I'd thought of that when I started making baguettes. Many of the photos I took are rather half assed haha. But I think I will do that one of these days. As long as I continue to be obsessed with baguettes, and so long as my freaking starter won't activate (!!), I'll be making these lean yeasted doughs for my foreseeable bread future. It was hard for me to visualize the baguette shaping directions outlined in Modernist Bread, so instead I studied these two videos. I'd watch them at half speed over and over again.
  2. Here are a pair of baguettes based on MB's French Lean Bread recipe. Shaping an evenly distributed cylinder has proven a struggle. The fact that the vessel I bake in, a Bayou Classic oval cast iron, restricts the baguettes length to 15” (it's actually 16" but you're pushing the limit) means I have little little wiggle room to lengthen one half or shorten the other. I’ve made the recipe using KA’s bread flour (12.7%) and really enjoyed the almost buttery scent of the bread. Below is using Central Milling’s Type 70 Malted (11.5%) which I picked up a few days ago (A two hour drive in the pouring rain through San Francisco up to freaking Petaluma). Coming from KA’s unmalted flour, the crust eruption I saw with CM’s malted flour was pretty jolting. It has a very crispy, craggly, crusty exterior. Scoring is an issue I’m slowly working to resolve. In the beginning I was an extremely tentative scorer and got zero ears. With my last several batches I’m a lot bolder in getting the blade in there. Overlaps and smooth scoring are an ongoing skill to develop. As for equipment, I mentioned above that I use a Bayou Oval. Highly, highly recommended over the fish poacher solution offered by MB, for reasons we all know: cast iron retains heat and its heavy lid creates a good seal, attributes lacking in the Norpro fish poacher I previously used. The cast iron was good, but the crust of my baguettes did not seem all that different than the ones baked in the Norpro. It was dull and not as crisp as I would expect in a baguette. I hypothesized that not enough steam was generated by the single baguette to fill the entire cast iron vessel. So I performed some experiments and found a perfectly acceptable solution: a 10 gram ice cube. After I slide the baguette onto the lid and place on the cover, I use a pair of long metal tweezers to slip the ice cube inside. The result is a crispy crust with a lovely sheen (when seen in person! ). In this first photo is the bake where I first used an ice cube. Both were of KA bread flour. Both were baked in the cast iron for the exact same amount of time (lid on for 15 m at 470 F, lid off for 10m at 450 F). The baguette on the left did not get an ice cube. The one on the right did get the ice cube. I found the color difference remarkable. The textural difference in the crust was also significant. Below are this morning’s bake using CM’s Type 70 Malted. Note this is not my first two baguettes I’ve baked, or my tenth and eleventh baguettes. These are baguettes #35 and #36 from Trial 11 (I track my progress!)! It has taken me this many attempts to even get to this point, and the baguettes still aren't evenly shaped. Ahhh. I’ve had better, more open crumbs using KA’s bread flour. As I become more comfortable using the Type 70 flour, I hope to get a more open crumb. I wonder if the parts of dense dough is due to shaping errors. Perhaps I was too heavy handed with the seam binding during shaping, or maybe during the envelope folding portion I overlapped one edge over more than I should have? Or maybe it's underproofed? The mise en place for oven loading. If anyone was curious, here is a photo from my first attempt at making homemade baguettes last September. I gave up for a while after that. I find with anything, but especially in baking, when you do something enough times you start to see progression. And that's what makes shaping and baking baguettes such an addictive endeavor.
  3. It's a good coincidence you mentioned that. I also considered starting my levain at 55 F since the book mentions that was their favorite maintenance setting, but I guess they only move to this schedule after they have a mature levain. For a little background on my setup, my proofer is a mini-fridge hooked up to an Inkbird ITC-1000 (temperature controller), and the controller has a temp probe which I run into the refrigerator. The heat is provided by a seedling heating pad. Inside I also keep a separate Acurite humidity monitor. I only use it to check for humidity, i rarely pay attention to the temp reading. But last night, I looked at it, and noticed it was reporting a temperature that was 2 degrees lower than what the Inkbird was reporting! Doh! Then I grabbed a separate temperature probe and placed it in the refrigerator to confirm that the Acurite reading was correct. That temperature difference must have affected the levain schedule, as my temperature fluctuations were between 66-68 F, not the 70 F prescribed in MB. I felt like such an ass haha. I've adjusted the Inkbird to compensate for the two degrees. Now I'm debating whether or not to start all over again, or keep feeding my levain at 25 % / 100% / 100% and hope it eventually becomes active. There are some bubbles on the top, but it doesn't rise and I don't see bubbles dispersed throughout the levain as I do in photos. Or maybe I should just discard 75% of the culture and go that route for a couple of days.
  4. Sweet. I wish I had your intuition. It's going to take a while I'm going to try out your method if this one doesn't pan out 😄. I'll give my current starter another full week of feeding. Hopefully it will show me some gratitude for feeding it..trust the process, trust the process.
  5. @Chris Hennes That totally makes sense, the appearance of my levain has all the telltale signs of a starved levain. Hooch on top, no bubbles, flat. Did you start the levain using 25g levain, 100g flour, 100g water as well (after the 48 hour wait period)? Or did you start it by discarding 75% of the culture, per MB directions, and then transitioned over to 25g starter/100g flour/100g flour?
  6. I’m probably mixing up the terms. I’m still unclear on the differences between a starter and a levain. Does a starter become a levain once it has established the requisite LAB levels? Also did you develop your starter using MB’s directions? Was it lively looking on the fourth day of starting it? i didn’t mention it before but I am using King Arthur Bread Flour. Thank you!
  7. What a fantastic thread! I've been struggling with the basic levain recipe described in Modernist Bread on page 3-54. I also noticed the same discrepancies with the suggested feeding schemes described in the HOW TO Start a Liquid Levain section (pg 3-54) and Best Bets for Levains - liquid levain (pg 3-55). I thought maybe I was not reading the former section correctly, and so I tweeted Francisco Migoya asking about it, but he didn't reply :(. But thanks to your post, I know I wasn't the only person confused by it. Anyway, so I failed at building a levain...again! Here was my schedule based on how I interpreted the steps in the "HOW TO start a Liquid Levain" section. I remove 75% of the culture, and add equal amounts of flour and water to replace what I discarded. Temperature: 68-70 F Storage vessel: glass jar with an air tight lid. Friday, 10:00 PM: Start levain: 150g/150g (flour/water) Saturday, 10:00 PM: Do nothing Sunday, 10:00 PM: 75g/112.5g/112.5g (culture/flour/water) --> I see bubbles. It appears lively. Monday, 10:00 PM: 75g/112.5g/112.5g (culture/flour/water) --> I see bubbles. It appears lively. It had doubled in size at some point in the past 24 hrs. The levain is light and airy as I pour it out of its container. Tuesday, 10:00 PM: It looks completely inactive. There's a layer of hooch on top, and very few bubbles. When I pour it out, the levain is loose and wet. There's really very little if any discernible air in the levain. *I gave up after that. I'd tried on a previous attempt and kept with it for 7 days, but the levain never seemed to become lively/bubbly and was not rising in size. That's why I gave up so early on with this attempt. Should I have kept going? Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of it, but it looked very similar to Anna's photo This is my first post here. Hopefully I'll be able to contribute to this wonderful community! Thanks! * Actually I didn't "give up". I said "screw it" and I switched over to the recipe 25% levain/100% flour/100% water on pg 3-55. We'll see how it goes. But I really wanted to see it work with their original steps in the "HOW TO Start a Liquid Levain" section.