Feedback on baguettes & seam-sealing technique?

t-t, don’t take offense at this when I state that it was near torturous watching the single baguette be worked on for minutes.  I don’t anticipate that someone else can work at my “speed”, and I certainly cannot anticipate to work at a professional baker’s speed either.  That being said, it seems (seams?) that you are on the right track.  So it’s all incremental, baby steps for most of us.

First I’ll state that even when the dough has been sealed correctly, I’ve found the occasional blowout just at the point where the dough meets the baking deck.  And although I’m pretty good at keeping an eye on where the seam is and ensuring that it lands directly down on the deck, invariably there are those rare times when I’ll lose track of where the seam really is .  And will have to assume that the dough was twisted oh-so-slightly.  Therefore a part of the seam winds up being shifted a few degrees north of where it should have been.

As a suggestion, and by no means am I the cat’s meow (tabby!) when it comes to this feat, but I hope that you can glean a few bits of knowledge from reviewing these portions of some videos I’ve put out there these past few years.  As I have mentioned elsewhere on TFL and in video, there’s a hundred ways to do it right and a hundred ways to do it wrong as well.  We each developer own style as we attempt to reach some equilibrium here.

The Bouabsa baguette, from ~5 years ago.  This uses no preferment of any kind.

Maurizio Leo’s (The Perfect Loaf) levain baguette.

As an aside, I think that 450 is too low for a baguette, or for most “artisan” breads.  My suggestion is to have them bake at somewhere closer to 470dF-480dF for the steaming portion of the bake and then – if you are to use  convection, which I don’t, that is where you’ll want to drop the temp down to about 450dF.  Baguettes should not take anywhere near 30 minutes to bake.  A more realistic timeframe is a total of 20-22 minutes for ~300g baguettes to reach ~205dF in the center.

Looking at the KAF formula, 68% is about right for a “classic” FWSY French “baguette tradition”, and a good starting place, if not dropping down to ~65%-66% total hydration.  I’d still give the final dough, poolish included, about a 20 minute autolyse before the final mixing.  Allow the new flour to more completely hydrate prior to the final mix.

Hope this helps, alan

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Post Author: MNS Master