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|
|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|
|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!