Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Perfect Baguette: In search of the holy grail


gsquared
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have the loaf the right side up on the board, slash it and then slide it off onto the stone.

You might also try instead of a tray for steam put a cast iron frying pan to preheat dry in the oven, maybe with some more scrap iron in it to give a heat reservoir, and when you put the loaf in the oven throw a cup of wter into the pan (care hot steam!) and slam the door/

Edited by jackal10 (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Each batch gets us closer. My loaves sold out literally within 5 minutes of opening the store today (that's a problem in itself). One buyer, a former professional baker, was having orgasms in the middle of my competitor's restaurant where she ate my bread - report came back from someone else in the restaurant. So, I'm very satisfied with the taste and crust. I'm going to try the skillet and free form baking with tomorrow's loaves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Each batch gets us closer.  My loaves sold out literally within 5 minutes of opening the store today (that's a problem in itself).  One buyer, a former professional baker, was having orgasms in the middle of my competitor's restaurant where she ate my bread - report came back from someone else in the restaurant.  So, I'm very satisfied with the taste and crust.  I'm going to try the skillet and free form baking with tomorrow's loaves.

Can we see a pic( of the bread) LOL.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay - many topics in this post...

First, my cripple:

gallery_41282_4652_53304.jpg

3 of the 4 loaves did this to varying degrees. One did not. That one was in my batch of two that I proofed about 30 minutes longer. And in fact, here it is:

gallery_41282_4652_3286.jpg

So poofy - I just wanted to cuddle up in it!

Here's my odd staining:

gallery_41282_4652_42956.jpg

I've been using a blue steel pan lined with parchment. I won't be anymore...this is unacceptable for selling.

Here's the one that came out perfect (IMO):

gallery_41282_4652_49500.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob,

Nice loaves! The crust looks beautiful, great color and blistering. To be honest though, they look more like batards than baguettes...but that's semantics!

Regarding your side-splitting...as you may have diagnosed yourself, probably due a little bit to underproofing and too much ovenspring (very hot oven) where the outside crust sets up too quickly in the oven, not allowing for full expansion of the gases and the spring causes the crust to split where it is weakest. The weakness along the bottom edge is common due to drying out of the top of the loaf during proofing and a skin forming on the dough. The bottom is kept moist due to contact with the paper/couche and when placed in the oven, the spring will split along this moist-dry seam. Less likely (from the appearance of your loaves) could be a shaping problem where you didn't seal your seams well enough and the split would occur along the seam.

edited to add: just went further upthread and read jackal10's post where he more succinctly wrote exactly what i just did...damn :huh:

Edited by alanamoana (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think my baguette became a batard when I baked it out of the form. The two done in the form kept their long slender shape.

Since I don't have the luxury of a proofing box to maintain moisture, and not form that skin, any suggestions?

And as for the temp, I lowered the temp from 495 to 450 on one round and didn't care as much for the crust. It wasn't quite as crisp and thin. Is there a target I should head to? Does my altitude have any effect? I'm at 6,000 ft.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's my two cents on your pictures Rob: First of all they look very appetizing and I bet they taste great. They do look a bit puffy for baguettes though, either too much dough or perhaps a bit overproofed.

Not sure about your altitude. One would think that it should make a difference but your bread issues appear to be more from technique than 6000 ft.

The blistering on your bread makes it look it's been retarding overnight in a fridge and although the French consider it a flaw we in North America think it looks great.

The sides most often split when the loaves are too close to each other. As mentioned above there are other reasons but in my experience it's almost always 'cause they're too close. Tough when you are using a home oven and need to max production. Especially when the next batch is overproofing.

The slashes you have made on the baguettes are the exact opposite of the classic slash. It's hard to describe but basically you need to make your cuts (5) starting just slightly off center from the top tip and about 3 inches long (depending how long your baguettes are) almost down the center of the baguette (holding your blade at a slight angle so that the cut is not straight into the dough). Each slash must slightly overlap by about a half an inch (without touching the previous cut) while you are striving mightily to keep your cuts running down the center of the baguette. Make sense (probably not :wacko: )? Once they get oven spring the cuts will pop open and give the illusion that they were cut at an angle.

As for proofing without a proofer you could try putting the trays inside a sealed plastic garbage bag with something like a cup on each corner to keep the plastic from touching the dough. (I'm lucky as I have a dedicated shower separate from my bathroom that has it's own electric baseboard heater. I just crank the heat and turn the shower on to steam the room to the desired level!)

Your crust issues will have to be worked out with trial and error (starting high and dropping down a bit once the crust is set perhaps) as most home ovens are terrible for giving consistent intense heat even with a stone. That's why a commercial bakers oven can have the loaves so close together.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First off - I REALLY appreciate you all taking the time to hold my hand through this. Second, I PMd jackal and said I was going to re-read all of the info in the various baguette topics (including his demo). I am doing that today.

Now, I just pulled four batards :biggrin: and acknowledge that they are not baguettes. I'll work on my shaping and slashing so I can call them baguettes again (my sales label won't be changing however).

You're right on about the blistering - I retard overnight. I've been bits n pieces about my process and if I shouldn't do that, I won't. It would save me time. Although, as you said, my customers seem to like it.

None of the four that I pulled had splits. Based on previous comments I proofed a bit longer, lowered my temp to 450 (from 495) and proofed with a cup of hot water in the container to attempt to maintain the moisture. All or part of those changes did the trick apparently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right now I'm just using Gold Medal Bread flour, but I'm looking to see what options my various distributors have.

And for pricing, I'm putting the "perfect" ones at $2.50 and the subpar from $1.75-$2.25 depending on how subpar. I'm planning on pricing at 2.95 or 3.50 once I take the "Test Loaf" label off.

Thanks for the reminder on Chris' CIA day. That makes eatrustic's slashing technique crystal clear. I'll do that on tomorrow's loaves.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey guys. First post.

I have been consistently getting good results from Peter Reinhart's BBA french bread recipe. Half of the final dough is prefermented the previous day. I've been using 100% King Arthur Bread Flour as opposed to using %50 AP/%50 Bread Flour in the original recipe.

baguettes_cooling_rack.jpg

le_grigne.jpg

I documented the whole process from beginning to end here (with notes and pictures):

Peter Reinhart's French Bread

Scoring the proofed baguettes took a LOT of practice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rob,

Have you mentioned what recipe you're using? I'm not an experienced baguette maker, but to me, your bread looks more like American-style French bread than French bread. It's the puffiness that eatrustic mentions, but also the colouring and the texture of the crust.

Are you making French bread, or bread in the shape of a baguette? Could the recipe you're using be less suited for that particular shape?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey guys. First post.

I have been consistently getting good results from Peter Reinhart's BBA french bread recipe. Half of the final dough is prefermented the previous day. I've been using 100% King Arthur Bread Flour as opposed to using %50 AP/%50 Bread Flour in the original recipe.

baguettes_cooling_rack.jpg

le_grigne.jpg

I documented the whole process from beginning to end here (with notes and pictures):

Peter Reinhart's French Bread

Scoring the proofed baguettes took a LOT of practice.

That's beautiful work, there, judec. I can almost taste those beautiful loaves!

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rona gets the kewpie doll! I realized that at about the same time as you posting it. Once I finished reading through the baguette topics, I noticed that my recipe was nothing like any posted in these topics. My recipe is 1-2-1 Starter-Flour-Water, salt after autol. It was a recipe that I found in one of the sourdough topics (darn eGulleters always leading you astray! :raz: ).

That said, the tips that everyone has offered have done the trick and my loaves (whatever they may be) are coming out perfect. I will now step back and look at BAGUETTE recipes and see if I can't work that into my production schedule.

And judec - those are beautiful - whatever they are :smile: Welcome, glad to have you on board.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've just read through this thread, and I'm interested in Jackal's earlier comments on mixing and overmixing dough.

I mostly work with dough in the 70% to 80% hydration range (especially one's based on Reinhart's/Gosselin's pain a l'ancienne delayed fermentation techniques). And I have a hard time telling when the dough is properly mixed. It never gets to the point where I can do the windowpane test (as shown in various books and websites). The times I've pushed it really far, using a KA mixer, It's overmixed. The bread is still tasty, but it loses its ability to fully rise.

The last couple of batches of baugette I've made used a 20 to 45 minute autolyse, refrigerated, after the dough first came together. Then mixing in the mixer after that.

I'm always guessing at when to stop mixing. This is sticky dough, and I don't know what it should look and feel like when it's ready.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm always guessing at when to stop mixing. This is sticky dough, and I don't know what it should look and feel like when it's ready.

Have you tried the stretch and fold method? Since I don't own a KA, I always use this technique with great results on wet doughs. It's pretty much impossible to overmix when doing this. There's more info here:

http://www.sourdoughhome.com/stretchandfold.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you tried the stretch and fold method? Since I don't own a KA, I always use this technique with great results on wet doughs. It's pretty much impossible to overmix when doing this. There's more info here:

I've tried that, but in general I like the machine for sticky doughs. A lot of people seem to get great results with these doughs in a KA; I just don't have a good sense of when to turn it off.

Notes from the underbelly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you tried the stretch and fold method? Since I don't own a KA, I always use this technique with great results on wet doughs. It's pretty much impossible to overmix when doing this. There's more info here:

I've tried that, but in general I like the machine for sticky doughs. A lot of people seem to get great results with these doughs in a KA; I just don't have a good sense of when to turn it off.

I tend to mix for only a scant few minutes, til the dough comes together and incorporates enough so that it loses its exceptional shagginess. The length of mix depends on what sort of dough I'm mixing and whether I'm adding anything else. But generally, I mix the water and the starter, add the flour and mix til it's all mixed well and then leave it for 15-20 minutes. Then add salt, etc. and mix for maybe a couple of minutes. That's it for mixing with the mixer. The rest of the development comes from stretching and folding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rona gets the kewpie doll!  I realized that at about the same time as you posting it.  Once I finished reading through the baguette topics, I noticed that my recipe was nothing like any posted in these topics.  My recipe is 1-2-1  Starter-Flour-Water, salt after autol.  It was a recipe that I found in one of the sourdough topics (darn eGulleters always leading you astray!  :raz: ). 

Yay me! I'm expecting one of those loaves as my prize! And perhaps one of the chocolate apricot tarts, except could I special order one without apricot? I am the winner, doncha know!

Whatever your bread was, it still looked good, and I'm sure it tastes amazing. I think you could probably get closer to $5 for it, but maybe that's because I've been in Japan for too long.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...