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Vietnamese Baguette for banh mi


NhumiSD
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Ok, here we go with yesterday's efforts. First, I followed the recipe above, with a couple of exceptions. I added only 3 cups of AP flour, which was enough to produce a slack dough that cleaned the sides but not the bottom of the Kitchen Aid bowl. I used sugar since I didn't have malt syrup, but I did add 1 tsp of diastatic malt powder, just for good measure.

Here's the risen dough - as you can see, it's very slack and elastic.

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Here's the dough divided into 8 parts for a little rest.

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The dough is shaped, quite inexpertly, into 8 small baguettes. Here's where I wish the dough were a little firmer, to allow better shaping.

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Another reason for a firmer dough would be the slashing. My slashing really sucks. I have a lame, but I don't use it well. With a dough like this, the slashes pulled all sorts of points and peaks into the dough. If you know of a good online tutorial on using the lame, please post it!

The dough went into the oven on its parchment, on the very hot stone. I added water at the outset, and then after 2 and 5 minutes. The oven spring wasn't terrific, and I blame that on my crummy slashing.

Here the bread is in the oven after 5 minutes

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You can see that the slashing is bubbling out, unfortunately.

Here it is after 15 minutes in the oven

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However, the finished product didn't look terrible, and tasted pretty good, although it didn't have enough salt for my taste.

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While slightly warm, the crust was crisp. The crumb was very nice

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I could very slightly taste the rice, and couldn't taste the baking powder at all. The mouth feel was good, although ever so slightly gummy just before swallowing. As the bread cooled, though, it lost the crispness and became a bit chewy.

All in all, it was a good first try. I'd like to get a better slash/oven spring, while keeping the lightness and open, elastic crumb. Oh, and I'm definitely upping the salt next time, probably by 50%.

So, help, critiques, suggestions, are all in order and welcomed.

Edited by Abra (log)
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Hi Abra,

Does the texture seem very light or is it a bit dense? The one thing that I have been thinking is that, the amount of protein. Vietnamese will use flour similar to the French, which would have ~11.7% protein and ash around 0.55% or so. I have been told somewhere to blend our AP flour with bread flour to get a similar flour as the French. If anyone know this, please correct me.

Iam guessing the amount of rice flour looks right.

Cant wait to have sometime to try this recipe too.

-Nhumi

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The crumb was very light when the bread was fresh, but today, after 24 hours, it's relatively dense. And there's no remaining vestige of crispness. I guess it's a given that baguette only lasts a day, so that doesn't worry me a lot, but I'm wondering how to get a crust that will stay crisp/brittle, while keeping the fluffy open crumb I have already.

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Looks good.

My guess is the dough is a little overproved, hence its wetness and less oven spring, although the width of the grigne (Slashes) indicate there is plenty.

I wouldn't bother with the water after the first spraying.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Crust texture has little to do with proof.

Lots of very hot steam in the first minute of baking, then none.

Put your thickest cast iron pan in the oven and pre-heat it very hot.

When you put the bread in the oven throw a cup of water into the pan (care -scald danger, and it will crack any glass in the oven like oven lights) and slam the door. Some people use ice cubes instead of liquid water for a slightly more contollable burst, but I think water is better. The hot steam gelatanises the outside that then cooks crisp.

Cool the bread with lots of air circulation. Putting the bread is plastic is one thing guaranteed to soften crust.

You can retard the the dough by putting it in the fridge overnight or for 12 hours before you bake. The dry atmosphere in the fridge slightly dries the outside and gives a characteristic crisp crust, with tiny bubbles in it.

Of course you can always egg wash

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Abra...visually your bread is lovely. I am curious why you cut down by 25% the amount of AP flour per the recipe. Will you add more flour next time in order to keep the dough from being too soft?

PS: Several years ago I started a thread on how to keep baguette type bread fresh for more than a day. I have no idea how to find that thread but there really weren't any good solutions other than to recrisp it in the oven.

Edited by IrishCream (log)

Lobster.

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That's a really unusual technique, Becca. I printed it out and might have to try it.

Jack, I did throw 1/4 cup of water on the floor of the oven three times, but it sounds like you'd recommend a full cup just once. I normally do rtard doughs, and maybe I'll try retarding this one after the loaves are shaped.

IrishCream, I reduced the flour because generally I find that slack doughs make better breads. I might increase it ever so slightly the next time, but I don't think that will make the crust crisper, just make the dough easier to handle.

I'm wondering whether the rice flour proportion is optimal, but I don't know how to tell, other than endless comparison trials.

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That's a really unusual technique, Becca.  I printed it out and might have to try it. 

If you try the recipe as well as the baking technique, you should know that there's not nearly enough salt in it. When I make it again I plan to at least double the salt.

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  • 6 years later...

Hi everyone,

My name is Rose. I am new to the forum.

I don't know yet how to upload photo into my post. So here is just text without any picture. For a clearer instruction with detail on my notes and pictures of every step, please refer to my blog post at: My link

Here in this post, I would describe how I make Bánh mì in my own way, which suitable for home bakers, who share the same dream of conquering this challenge to successfully recreate the mysterious Bánh mì baguette.It is quite long, but I hope you stay and read. :)

Below is how I make Bánh mì baguette. (6 loaves, 75g per loaf)

————————————————

Utensils needed

  • An electric mixer with dough hook attachment (recommended)
  • Clean bowls
  • A digital scale
  • A baguette perforated baking tray
  • A spray bottle
  • A double razor slashing lame

————————————————

Ingredients and Instructions

  • 160ml lukewarm water (around 35 degree Celsius)
  • 6g fresh yeast

Step 1: Dissolve fresh yeast into the measured warm water (Remember: warm water is needed to activate the yeast, do not use too cool or hot-to-touch water). Let sit for 5 minutes or so until there is bubble on the surface. This is a necessary step to check if your yeast is still alive and active. If the mixture does not bubble up after 5 minutes, discard it, and make a new one, maybe this time with a different yeast source, or pay attention to the water temperature.

Personally, fresh yeast is what I am always to use in making my Bánh mì. I have tried making it with different brands of dry yeast without stable success, so I just drop that and stick with fresh yeast. Surprisingly enough, my Bánh mì dough, when being made with fresh yeast, comes out a bit firmer and cohesive than when being made with dry yeast (and Bánh mì or other baking products baked with fresh one has less yeasty smell. It has been claimed that bread baked with fresh yeast have superior flavor, too.) So just some more reasons why I stick with my precious little fresh yeast cubes in my bread baking.

However, if fresh yeast is not available, or you are not familiar with it, try sticking with your normal dry yeast because technically, they should react the same way and produce the same result. So for this recipe, if you wish to use dry yeast, use 3g of dry yeast. If you wish to use instant yeast, use 2g of instant yeast. Just make sure that you activate the yeast correctly according the manufacturer instruction.

  • 230g bread flour
  • 20g finely grounded rye flour
  • 20g sugar
  • 4g salt

Step 2: Mix all the dry ingredients in to a large mixing bowl. I use a combination of bread flour and rye flour (8% of total flour weight) because as I researched and experimented, rye flour does add some advantages to my Bánh mì dough.

- Firstly, a small amount of rye – 5-10% of the total flour by weight – has a definite effect on the flavor of the bread. The distinctive flavor of the rye itself may not be noticed, yet the bread’s overall flavor seems better. This may be due to the action of the amylases in rye releasing more sugars. This is necessary for this bread because originally, Bánh mì has quite plain taste.

- Secondly, dough with rye flour added often require a bit higher proportion of water than pure wheat dough. Therefore, even though this dough is 64% hydration, by adding 20g rye flour, the dough is less sticky and easier to handle.

- Thirdly, rye has more free sugars than wheat, so rye added dough ferments faster than pure wheat dough. You can cut down the fermenting time by adding bit rye flour into the dough.

- Fourthly, this point does not have scientific background though, by adding a small amount of rye flour, I noticed that the bread crust is crispier than pure wheat loaves’. It’s almost like hard flakes, which resembling original Bánh mì’s crust a lot.

If you don’t have rye flour in hand, simply just leave it and add the same amount of bread flour, meaning 250g in total. I used to use only pure bread flour with many successes too.

NOTE: The bread flour I use is semi-coursed 13% protein bread flour (which is normal and usable, because wheat produced in Europe tends to have higher protein percentage than in other regions). The rye flour I use is finely grounded rye flour.

I also add sugar in the recipe to increase the complexity in flavor for this bread since this is not long fermented bread, the flavor can be cut back quite deeply, and have to be support by outside substances. About salt, I use regular table salt, nothing fancy about that.

  • 20g odorless oil such as sunflower or canola (or a mixture of 10g melted butter – 10g oil)

Step 3: Add oil or oil-melted butter mix into the dry ingredients bowl. Usually, there is no oil in baguette recipe. But please do, in this recipe. Oil will make the crumb moist and soft, resembling original Bánh mì. In Vietnam, bakers use bread improver to increase the moisture in the crumb, but I do not support any kind of addictive added to homemade breads, so I recommend to stick with the oil. A mixture of melted butter and oil can create the buttery smell of the finish products, so, use this mix if you like your bread to smell like a bit more like heaven when it’s being baked and done.

  • ½ vitamin C tablet (100mg acid ascorbic per tablet)

Step 4: Crust ½ tablet of vitamin C into fine powder and sprinkle into the mixing bowl, together with other ingredients. Acid ascorbic creates an acidic environment for the yeast that helps it work better. It also acts as a preservative & deters mold and bacterial growth. With just a touch of ascorbic acid, your breads, the yeast will work longer and faster. By adding this amount of Vitamin C as an improver, my bread dough strength improves significantly; the loaves are also lighter, airier, which make it a lot lot like Bánh mì in Vietnam. However, it gets destroyed during baking, so no health benefits!

I do not recommend using orange/lemon flavor fizzy tablets or Vitamin C candy (even though they contain acid ascorbic), as they do not react the same way as pure acid ascorbic. Vitamin C tablets can easily be found in pharmacy shops and one small bottle of them can be use like forever, so if you want to conquer Bánh mì, the addition of acid ascorbic is a must.

Step 5: After your water-yeast mixture has bubbled up, add it in to the dry-oil-vitamin C mixture in the same mixing bowl.

Step 6: Start combining all your ingredients first by starting the mixer at low speed until you achieve a mass. If your mass looks wetter, simply add more flour at 10g each addition. If you mass look dryer, simply add more water at 5g each addition. This can happen due to different flour type that you use, or because of the environment differences such as humidity.

Use the dough hook if you have a stand mixer like me. Some hand mixers also have a duo of dough hooks, which can also be used. Or if you make bread by hand, just create a well in the center of the mixing bowl, add water gradually when using your hand to in a circular motion to help the flour absorb the water, until you achieve a mass like above.

Step 7: increase the speed to medium high speed if using electric mixers. Stop at 5 minutes interval to check the level of gluten development in the dough (a.k.a the strength of the dough). Here is my dough at 13 minutes of mixing, fully developed gluten, that my dough can be stretched out in to very thin, almost see-through sheet.

Step 8: Shape your dough into a ball and let it rest in a lightly oil container for 1 hour or until double in size. This is the bulk fermentation stage, which let the dough rest for further gluten and flavor development. My apartment is always a bit cold, around 20-22 degree Celsius inside, so my solution is that I cover my container with a warm damp towel, put it inside my oven, which light turned on but no heat applied.

Step 9: After the 1 hour bulk fermentation. Flip the dough out onto your working surface, which already oiled lightly also. It should come out very easily since the containing bowl was oiled. It will deflate a bit and that’s alright.

Step 10: divide the dough into 6 equal parts, 75g each. Then gently shape them into short cylinders, like this. The them bench rest for 10 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.

Step 11: After 10 minutes rest; turn 1 ball on to the lightly oiled surface. (As I explain the previous post here, Bánh mì baguette shaped on a lightly oiled working bench, not by using excess flour). Stretch it into very thin sheet, like this. But not too thin that makes it tear apart. Pay attention to the edge of the dough sheet because it tends to be thicker than the inner part, keep the edge very thin. (Otherwise, you will end up with a bone-like shaped baguette)

Roll the sheet very very tightly into a firm torpedo. You should feel the tightness of the torpedo, or else, it will not spring properly when baked. Continue with the remaining balls. When finished, you have a tray like this.

Step 12: Mist the loaves with a spraying bottle a couple of time to create the needed humidity for the proofing. Let the tray go through the final proofing stage in a homemade proof box like this, in room temperature, for 1 more hour. Basically, it’s a big size black plastic bag I found somewhere in my apartment, clean thoroughly and let dry.

After 45 minutes of final fermentation, preheat your oven to it’s maximum temperature, in my case is 300 degree Celsius

Step 13: At this stage, your oven should be preheated properly to 300 degree Celsius. Your loaves have been proofed to the right stage. You have to make sure that your loaves have a smooth, not totally dried-out but not wet surface. If they are still wet outside, or stick to your finger, you should consider leaving it out in room environment for like 5 minutes to create a “skin” to your baguette.

Now it’s time for some slashing. I used to have countless troubles with slashing my baguettes. But after viewing this wonderful video I open up my eyes.

Here is how I perform my slashing:

- Stand vertically from the loaf, not horizontally; you are facing the loaf length-wise not height-wise.

- Hold the lame like holding a key to open a door.

- The lame should be hold not perpendicularly with the loaf but at a slight angles of about 30 – 45 degree. The cuts should not enter deeply into the loaf, but rather making a lift right under

- Slashing motion is done with the entire arm, not just the hand.

- Imagine dividing the dough into 3 equal strips length-wise. Your cuts should all fall into the center trips but not across the whole loaf.

- Your cuts should be around 0.8cm deep, 5 cm long, with around 1.5cm overlapping with the previous cut.

- After cutting the loaf, I pipe a small line of shortening/margarine into the cut. When baking, the shortening or margarine melts leave the inner part of the cut moister and more fragile than the outer crust, therefore, if the loaves spring while baking, it will choice the weakest point to rise up, which is the moistest part of the loaves.

These following steps are critical in the making of Bánh mì. So read the instruction first, and then follow them exactly.

Step 14: Prepare your oven properly now. Check carefully if there is any air vents in the oven, if there is, cover the exit tightly with a cool damp towel. Mine have one but I did not notice for such a long time, so you’d better check, for the best.

Prepare 200ml of hot water. Boiling is best.

Step 15: Right after slashing your Bánh mì loaves, mist them generously with water from spray bottle.

Step 16: Open the oven’s door, splash the prepared hot water onto the oven floor, and put your prepared baguette tray onto the center rack, close the door immediately. This is how I create steam for my oven.

There are more ways to create steam for your oven. Feel free to explore all the possibilities.

Step 17: Turn down the heat to 275 degree Celsius. Bake with steam for the first 7 minutes.

Step 18: Open your oven’s air vent (that previously covered by a damp towel), ajar your oven door for 1 minute by a wooden spoon to let the steam evaporate completely. Then close the door, reduce the heat to 250 degree Celsius and bake for 8 more minutes.

Turn your tray inside out if needed for even browning. If your baguettes brown too quickly or too slowly, simply adjust the baking time or the heat accordingly.

Step 19: Turn off the heat, ajar the oven door, and let the tray sit in the oven for 2 more minutes. Then take them out and let cool off for 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 20: Enjoy. You can see in this picture below that the bread has almost little white moist crumb. Perfect for adding layers of your favorite fillings in and eat them up. Nom Nom…

What do you think? What is your favorite Banh Mi recipes? Any comments and discussions are highly appreciated.

Thank you,

Rose

Life is short, Food is good. Why not worry less, and enjoy more?

My new food blog at: http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com

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Thank you for all the trouble you went to to post this recipe and the detailed instructions. I have heard many good things about this bread but have also read that it is next to impossible for the home baker to make. I will have to try this recipe.

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Hi,

I am glad that I could be helpful. :)

rotuts: it does take time and practices to have the perfect slashes. And I am still working on mine, too. Let's make some Banh Mi and practice our slashing skill.

ElsieD: You are very welcome. This Banh Mi used to be a myth for me too. But after creating and using this recipe. I start to believe that it is hard, but still achievable for home bakers like us. Please do try this recipes. I am new to all these online cooking and baking communities so I highly appreciate constructive comments and feedbacks. ;)

Rose,

Life is short, Food is good. Why not worry less, and enjoy more?

My new food blog at: http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com

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Hi rickster,

I have heard many myths about Banh Mi, too, some of them including using rice flour in the recipe. But the Vietnamese bakery that I used to work for does not use any rice flour in their recipe (and they have worked in the business for more than 10 years). So I just assume that maybe it can be excluded.

And I have had stable successes with the one I posted in here. I think the secret of Vietnamese bakeries is on using vitamin C and bread improver (sadly), and how they shape the loaf.

Rose,

Life is short, Food is good. Why not worry less, and enjoy more?

My new food blog at: http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

This sounds really interesting and I will definitely give this a try.

I've been trying to make banh mi baguettes for a while now, but haven't really found a recipe that I like. All of my efforts have resulted in nice loaves, but not the light, crispy loaf that you need for banh mi.

I'm especially intrigued by the use of vitamin C in the dough. I really want to see if that will make a difference for me.

Thanks!

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Hi Fred,

Please do try this recipe. :) It has had great results in my oven. The vitamin C is quite vital in making Banh Mi because acid ascobic (chemical name of vitamin C) is a great dough enhancer, it increases the strength of the gluten, help the structure of the loaves more stable, hence bigger volume, hence lighter crumb.

About the crispy crust, it depends very much on your steaming.

Hope to hear more from your kitchen Fred,

Rose,

Life is short, Food is good. Why not worry less, and enjoy more?

My new food blog at: http://simplyafoodblog.wordpress.com

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  • 4 years later...

Hi, I was wondering if anyone can tell me how the Banh Mi bread gets such a buttery fragrant ? Is there something special added to the ingredient?  I've tried to make Banh Mi bread but it never smells as buttery as the deli places.

 

Thank you

Di

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@GlorifiedRice

 

 Thanks very much for posting this video.   I might give her recipe shot but I've been disappointed in all my attempts to make the proper bread.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I've really missed the real Banh Mi ever since returning from Saigon last winter.  That bread is so unique - although some places in NYC try to do it, none of them are even remotely close to the real thing.  The crust of the faux-Banh is just way too tough - it should be tender, yet shatteringly crisp, and light and tender inside.  Thanks for this video - I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but I will do so soon!

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are a number of Bahn Mi recipes out there. The one I recommend is based on the one from "Real Vietnamese Cooking" p.28 by Tracy Lister and Andreas Pohl.

 

The recipe can be summed up as: AP flour 100% – Rice Flour 16% – Salt 3% – white granulated Sugar 8% – Dry Yeast 7% – lukewarm Water 91%

 

I prefer a little less salt in my breads and so normally knock the salt down to 1.5% - 2%

 

Edit ( Oops Didn't see Helen up further in the thread, my bad.) Helen's Recipes on Youtube does a good job of describing the baking process.

 

Addendum: Alternative recipe translated, from video of a commercial bakery in action, on Michael Duong's youtube channel.

1/2 an egg, 600g water, 1kg bread flour, 100g salt, 60g yeast, 60g Additives (Improver?) – cut 120g per portion. Proof in humidity cabinet at 35-40°C. Bake at 210°C for 12 minutes. [noted: no rice flour in this one :D ]

Edited by ThePieman
redundant information: additional info added. (log)
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