Friday, September 26, 2008

My First attempt at a baguette


Joseph Bayot said...

Heh, the first time I tried to make biscuits, they looked and tasted like hockey pucks...

except harder...

Tino said...

Couple of things that might help:

* Make sure that in your shaping process, you keep the skin tight. If it's too loose, you won't get much rise (or ovenspring) out of it

* Hold your lame/knife/razor blade so that it is at a 45 degree angle. You are trying to create a "flap" more than just a slice

* The cuts in your photo are running too much side to side instead of end to end. Try and make the cuts run at a more lengthwise angle

* Finally, the pale color is most likely due to either not enough time baking in the oven, or baking too long at too low a temperature. French style breads need to be baked at 475-500 degrees until the internal temp is between 205-210 degrees F when read with an instant read thermometer. Preferably baked on a pizza stone.

Good luck!

Nick N said...

joseph, this bread wasn't quite at the hockey puck stage. It was pushing it though.

thanks so much tino! I used the recipe from The New French Baker and the dough was extremely sticky and hard to work with. Any recipe suggestions?

Tino said...

Nick --

Here's the thing about breads with all those marvelous holes in them ... they are quite sticky. The trick to learning how to handle doughs like this is to reduce the amount of water so that the dough is manageable. Once you get the feel for working with it at that level, add a little bit more water the next time. Over time, you'll learn how to handle the stickier doughs without deflating it.

Another trick to working with wetter doughs is to either wet your hands first with either water or oil. Often times when I am working with my focaccia doughs, I'll spritz my hands with Pam release spray (so I don't get too much oil into the dough).

Classically, French dough is as follows:

100% AP flour
60% Water
2% fresh cake yeast
2% salt

That means for every 100 grams of flour, you'll add 60 grams of water, 2 grams of yeast, and 2 grams of salt. You just multiply up or down as you need to increase or decrease the final dough you need. These are called Baker's Percentages and are what is used in professional bakeries instead of "recipes". Peter Reinhart's book, Bread Baker's Apprentice, has an excellent introduction to the science of baking. I highly recommend it - it taught me a ton about how to get repeatable results.

Starting out at 60% water is a good beginning point because it is not too sticky. When I do my French breads, I normally push it up to 70-72%, which gives me nicer holes, but is obviously trickier to handle.

French breads seem so simple (just 4 ingredients), but can often be some of the trickiest breads to produce well.

I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you might have.

Sam said...

My first baguette attempt (a couple weeks ago) looked similar to yours! I haven't tried again yet, but am glad to see Tino's suggestions. Love the blog by the way... I clicked over from Ruhlman's website.

Nick N said...

Ok, sounds good Tino, thanks a bunch.