Experiments In Baguettes

So my previous post on baguettes was a stab in the dark, I have now done some more research and boy had I underestimated them. I had never realised the complexity and technicality of baguettes and have learnt many new baking terms and equipment. So to test my new understanding I set about making two different types of loaf a sourdough and a normal – here are my results.

So the sourdough was an odd choice, but basically I was attempting to use my sourdough starter instead of a poolish – the difference being a poolish is ~12 hours old and has yeast, where as my starter has natural yeast and is much older so different rising properties not to mention taste.

Whilst I would like to try with a proper poolish I forgot to make it the night before and wanted to try something now.

Sourdough:

The recipe came from the Weekend Bakery post for Easy Baguettes. As I say the recipe required poolish which I substituted for sourdough starter. Other than that I generally stuck to it. Note I halved the recipe to make only 2 baguettes.

  • 380 g Starter
  • 190 g White flour
  • 95 g Water
  • 6 g Salt
  • 1 g Dried Yeast
Now sadly I didn’t follow this recipe very well, I just stuck it all in the bread maker pressed ‘go’ and sat back.
When the dough was ready I shaped and proved, then baked at 180°C for around 40 mins.

I had a bit of trouble working with this dough, as it was very wet, but I have just found a video guide on their website which is AMAZING. Baking Baguettes: The Movie Which guides you through the recipe and how to handle the dough. Next time I will pay this far more attention. The best bit is that it uses the music from Flight of the Conchords – Foux Da Fa Fa.

That aside I really enjoyed making this baguette, and the result was fantastic. Despite the high quantity of starter the bread wasn’t overly sour, but it gave the crumb that traditional sourdough rubbery texture with big open holes. Fantastic.

Straight Dough:

I took my recipe and instruction from a post on The Fresh Loaf which I will quickly reproduce here:

  • 500 g White flour
  • 350 g Water
  • 10 g Salt
  • 4 g Dried yeast

Mix the four and water and leave for 90 min. Then work in the salt and yeast – I did this in the bread maker, as it is much easier, as it requires a lot of kneading. Shape into a ball, and leave in an oiled + covered bowl for ~2 hours. During this time take it out at 45 and 90 mins to stretch and fold the dough, returning it to the bowl.

Divide into 3, leave to relax, then shape and leave for another 45 mins. Bake in a preheated oven for 45 mins. He says 480°F which I make to be about 250°C. My oven doesn’t go this high, so I went for about 220°C.

I generally stuck to this, except my oven was too hot (even at 220°C) so I had to nock it down to 170°C mid bake, to stop them burning.

So apart from the shaping + slashing I was really happy with these baguettes. They tasted amazing – I wouldn’t change a thing.

Comparison:

So technically both these sets of baguettes were made with the same ingredients – Flour, Water, Salt and Yeast, but they were very different. The sourdough on top (and left), the straight on the bottom (and right). I think you will agree they look slightly different, but both beautiful.

Both were fantastic, and I would make them again in an instant. They both had that really crunchy crust and soft crumb.

Next time I promise to try a proper poolish, but for now I am very content with the results.

Cheers,

Olly

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6 thoughts on “Experiments In Baguettes

  1. You have been busy! And I will check out those links later.

  2. Nice!

    I believe there is a baguette baking competition in France with several hundred entrants all prodicing their own version using just the 4 basic ingredients and nothing else. It’s one of the most prestigeous prizes to win!

    You’ve clearly got the bread bug bad Olly.

    • You have no idea.
      We actually cant eat the bread fast enough. I hate throwing it out, but I just want to make more. It is becoming more of an obsession than a hobby, constantly wanting to improve and make better loaves. Think it might be time to open a bakery, or start baking to request for people.

  3. […] I used came from the weekendbakery.com for San Francisco Sourdough. I had really liked their easy baguette recipe so why not try another. Obviously I didn’t follow the recipe completely, I never do, but it […]

  4. Han-Na says:

    Q – can you make baguettes without the baguette shaper and tray?

    • Of course. Supposedly it allows you to bake a baguette at higher hydration levels, due to the increased airflow, and control of structure. Though this was at quite a low hydration level, so this would have been fine without it. The main reason I do it though is my baking stone is only 30cm square, so you dont get long baguettes, where as with the tray I can make them a bit longer.

      I have been looking to revisit baguettes recently, after I read a post where they slashed the bread before the final proving stage, to get a more open and even bake. Perhaps something for the weekend.

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