Part 2 – The simple pleasures of IDY baking

For all the hundreds of baguettes that I’ve made these past 5 plus years, it is a curiosity that I have never made a traditional French baguette.  For the record, as enticing a standard French baguette may be, they are often too unexciting, flavor wise.

They may be a national symbol, akin to the Eiffel Tower and the beret, their place well cemented in the culture.  The best of them carry a bright and sparkling if not forceful flavor, and the rest serve as a landing pad for a sandwich or honored place at the dinner table.

Once I became enamored with the Bouabsa baguette, there was no turning back.  I never looked to create the French baguette.  Until now.  Recently Dan posted a link to some King Arthur videos of isolation baking, including one by Martin Philip that I honed in on.  Here he is creating the french baguette, and thus inspired me to take my own shot at it.

And after 8 bakes, I think that I am finally there, each bake modified slightly in order to create a baguette that meets my standard.  My first bake was a wild goose chase due to the wrong formula link under the video.

I rewatched the video where I saw that the formula being help up to the camera was not the same as the one in the link!  Time to go with bake #2.  And so on, each time trying a little something different.  Until finally I started to piece the puzzle together.  8 bakes in 11 days.  I am decidedly not a natural, but rather one who is often willing to put the time in to figure it out piece by piece.  Usually I get lucky on a first bake, but not here in these uncharted waters.  And not dissimilar to my multiple consecutive bakes in search of an acceptable pan de cristal.

One problem I had was that I was pussy-footing around the shaping phase too much.  Trying to be gentle with this soft and pliable dough, I was not creating the appropriate surface tension.  But that began to resolve on bakes 7 & 8 after another video review of Mr. Philip’s shaping technique.

Here is the BBGA formula based on the KA recipe page… Note that I accidentally excluded the addition of the salt at mix time!

French, Classic Baguette
KA, Martin Philip Total Flour
Total Dough Weight (g) 950 Prefermented 22.50%
Total Formula Poolish Final Dough
Ingredients % Grams % Grams Ingredients Grams
Total Flour 100.00% 557.2 100.00% 125.4 Final Flour 431.8
Bread Flour 100.00% 557.2 100.0% 125.4 Bread Flour 431.8
Water 68.40% 381.1 94.0% 117.8 Water 263.3
Salt 1.75% 9.8 Salt 9.8
IDY 0.35% 2.0 0.17% 0.21 IDY 1.7
Poolish 243.4
Totals 170.50% 950.0 194% 243.4 950.0
My kitchen is warm, therefore BF and proof times are shorter here.
Scale dough @310g each.
Mix  poolish and allow ~12 hours.
Mix  poolish, flour, water and IDY. Mix until dough is springy, but not toally smooth.
Cover in greased bowl for 80 min.  Letter Fold at 40 min.
Divide & shape.  Onto well floured couche seam side up or down.
Retard immediately, perhaps for overnight.
OR proof on counter, covered,~30 min.
Preheat oven to 480dF
Onto oven peel seam side down.  Score.
Bake at 460dF.  ~13 minutes with steam, total bake time ~22 min  3 min venting.

Highlighted are a few notes on each and the progression.  Only changes from previous run are noted.

Bake #1.  375g each. Wrong formula.  Too big, too long BF, 2 S&Fs, log pre-shape, overnight retard, too low oven temp – 425dF, tight crumb.  Bland color, bland taste.  I thought the overnight retard would improve flavor.  No!

Bake #2. Mr. Philip’s referenced formula.  310g each.  23% AP poolish, 90 min BF, 1 S&F, boule pre-shape, too hot oven temp – 500dF, tight crumb.  Scorched from excessive heat, flavor improved slightly due to the “roasted” aspect.  Comparing bakes 1&2 here.

Bake #3:  23% AP/Rye poolish, 80 min BF, 460dF oven.  Improved everything – but got away from basic formula with addition of rye flour in poolish.  First good scoring.

Bake #4.  23% all AP poolish again, continued good scoring.

stubby image for unknown reason…

Bake #5. 50% AP poolish, sticky mix due to amount of liquid preferment, back to log pre-shape, rolled in flour before couche, reverted back to less impressive scoring.  I though the increased preferment would improve flavor.  Not really.

Bake #6.  Back to 23% poolish, log pre-shape again, continued overly gentle handling of shaping – created a lack of surface tension, displayed in unimpressive scoring.

Bake #7.  Improvement over #6 due mostly to familiarity of process and dough handling, more aggressive shaping to force better surface tension,

Bake #8.  putting it all together!  Short log pre-shape, retard for 4 hrs.  Still not as open a crumb as expected, but flavor has now improved significantly over original bake.

again, stubby image…

 This is what happens when the wife wants to see if we could vacuum seal a baguette to “keep it fresh longer”.  Don’t try this at home kids!

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Post Author: MNS Master