A chaotic day, and a baguette

I woke up this morning and god forbid, I decided I’d go for the holy grail of home baking: the ever-elusive baguette. However the day was a rollercoaster and I ended up away from my dough for a few hours (I went to the local bakery to buy some cake, ended up having brunch there and drinking lots of café au lait, eating croissant aux amandes and chatting with the owner). The kids were really loud today so we went to the park. And when we finally got home, I remembered -- MY BREAD!

No time to panic. I shaped the dough and placed it into folds of linen (first time I try this technique), cursing a lot in the process and dropping flour on the freshly cleaned kitchen floor. In the end, the dough was looking okay so I cooked it. Et voila, I got the most exquisite baguette I’ve ever tasted. Really, the texture and crust were close to perfection and even though the upper crust was a bit pale to my opinion, I wouldn’t have changed anything to its delicate, nutty taste. Just enough chewiness. The kids ate it like there was nothing else on the table, without butter.

The details are a bit sketchy but here are some I remember:

SPONGE: 60g starter @120% hydration (whole-wheat high-gluten organic flour), 70g unbleached organic white flour, 80g water

DOUGH: 210g sponge, 350g unbleached organic white flour, 200g water, 7g salt

I think it gives something like 70% hydration, and the dough was quite slow to rise. The dough was silky and a little stickier than usual, but it held together and responded well to kneading and folding. I folded it only once. No need to add any flour for handling it, except on the linen of course.

 

3 comments

Nicely done! the loaves look great!

Hugo

 

Nice work.  I tried making baguettes this weekend - just a yeasted version.  Dough was very soft and hard to slash.  Was your dough very soft at the end of proving?  Were you able to and did you slash the loaves?

Must try your recipe as I really want to master a baguette.

Cam

I can see a few reasons for a soft dough. It could be overproofed, or perhaps your flour is too weak? I had lots of trouble with a supposedly "all purpose" flour which was, in fact, very low in proteins.

For the baguettes: prior to the second rising, I flattened the dough and rolled it into baguettes, then placed it on a floured linen cloth. The dough wasn’t that hard to manipulate (it held together) but I was very careful. I slashed it with my bread knife (you can see it on the picture).

 

EDIT: I’ve tried to make baguette a few times using commercial yeast and the end result was disappointing. The gluten was under-developed and it looked more like pizza sticks (or "instant" frozen baguettes you can buy at the supermarket). Edible, but no "wow!" factor. But at the time I was a total beginner in bread making. Perhaps I didn’t knead properly to develop the gluten. Perhaps the hydration wasn’t high enough. The dough was very pale, so I didn’t cook at high enough temperature, that for sure. I’ll give it another try someday; perhaps with a very high-gluten flour so that the baguette is "chewy" enough. I don’t like doughy bread. If I want "pain de mie" (ordinary sandwich bread) I’d rather buy it at the supermarket than spend the afternoon in the kitchen!