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Old 05-04-2018, 01:27 PM   #1
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A Novice Baker's Quest for Baguettes

I'm not much of a baker, and my only experience with making bread is Dutch oven bread (aside from a failed ciabatta attempt). I decided I wanted to try to make baguettes. I read a few articles on the web and watched a few YouTube videos in an attempt to learn.

First attempt was the recipe from Artisan Bread With Steve. They looked like baguettes, but didn't have much of a crust. Won't try that again.

Next was Chef John's sandwich rolls, as they looked like baguettes. They came out pretty good, but weren't quite as crusty as I was looking for. In retrospect, I suspect that if I let the pan of water run dry, instead of adding water during the process so there was always steam, the crust might have been better.

Laura Vitale's recipe was next. This time I added the cup of water at the start and didn't add any during baking, and the pan ran dry before the baguettes were done. The baguettes had a good crust on the top and sides, but the bottoms didn't brown up all that well (baked on parchment paper on a baking stone).

I decided to order a baguette pan, as KatieH and PrincessFiona gave them thumbs up. I ordered a French bread pan at the same time, as the two pans barely exceeded the $25 minimum for free shipping on Amazon. I followed the King Arthur baguette pan baguette recipe. I let the poolish sit at room temperature for a few hours, then stuck it in the fridge for a few days waiting for the pans to arrive (I learned about flavor development by leaving the dough in the fridge for a few days from making Dutch oven bread). As the recipe didn't call for including a pan of water during baking, I was prepared for a disappointing crust, and thought that the next batch would need to include a water pan. Whooaa! These came out great! Nice crust and golden brown all around. Just as good as the highly regarded bakery across the river. At some point I'll probably make a batch with a water pan, just to see how they turn out, but I'm really happy with this batch. I made the baguettes half length (7" or so long), as it's a good sandwich size and easy to handle and freeze.

I'll be making some bread in the French bread pan (probably short loaves), and also be trying some variations in the baguette recipe. This pan made all the difference for baguettes, and I'm expecting the same for the French bread pan.

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Old 05-04-2018, 03:39 PM   #2
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Sounds delish I have a bread pan like that that holds two loaves. It works great. The first time I used it, DH noticed the professional (he said) texture on the bottom, where it's perforated. I'll give this recipe a try. I've used the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day no-knead dough and as the King Arthur Flour recipe says, the slack dough can stick to the pan.

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/reci...-recipe-recipe
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:08 PM   #3
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The KA baguette dough is pretty sticky, but not as slack as DO bread dough. Need to flour everything when handling it. I didn't have any issues with it sticking to the pan, but I lightly oiled it, just to be safe.
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:22 PM   #4
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I've found that the best baguette recipes all have 2 things in common:

1. They include bread flour
2. They have super long rise times - usually at lower temps.

Both these things contribute to the deep yeasty flavor that is the hallmark of a good baguette.

I lived in France for a while as a student and the family I stayed with made the best bread I've ever had. The bread was always started in the evening as a sponge. A slurry of yeast, water and a small quantity of flour was set to come to life over night in the cool house. The next day, the sponge was augmented with more water, flour and salt and mixed into dough. Then the usual rise, knead and form, rise and bake routine. The overnight starter made the bread just amazinng.


Here's a couple of KA recipe that you might check out:

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/reci...y-bread-recipe

https://www.kingarthurflour.com/reci...guettes-recipe
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Old 05-06-2018, 12:18 PM   #5
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I made a batch using bread flour this morning, and also made them bigger by making four of them using the French loaf pan (approx. 8" long and just under 3" wide). They seemed a little denser than the baguettes using AP flour, but there were other factors involved. As well as the baguettes being larger than the previous batch, I might have let them rise too much (more than doubled), as I went out for a ride during the first rise that was a little longer than anticipated, so the rise time was 2-1/2 hours.

KA recommends AP flour in their classic baguette recipe "as its protein level and other attributes closely mimic the flour used by French bread bakers". Still, these were really good. We had turkey and Swiss sandwiches for lunch, and Mrs. T agrees with me that they are every bit as good as the baguettes from the bakery. I'm wrapping the other two and putting them in the freezer for another time.
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Old 05-07-2018, 04:34 PM   #6
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a proper crust is every bread lover's quest - I have found two items make the difference:
- a slack / high hydration dough - 85% or slightly more
- containing the steam environment during the first half of a really hot bake.

this is the classic Lehy no knead recipe; KA bread flour/water/yeast/salt.
you can see the crackle crust in full flake-on mode....
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the bake started at 525'F - on a preheated stone, using parchment (not in pix) plus a stainless bowl for a lid. removed after 12-13 minutes.

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Old 05-07-2018, 06:09 PM   #7
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Very nice loaf.
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Old 05-07-2018, 09:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tenspeed View Post
I'm not much of a baker, and my only experience with making bread is Dutch oven bread (aside from a failed ciabatta attempt). I decided I wanted to try to make baguettes. I read a few articles on the web and watched a few YouTube videos in an attempt to learn.

First attempt was the recipe from Artisan Bread With Steve. They looked like baguettes, but didn't have much of a crust. Won't try that again.

Next was Chef John's sandwich rolls, as they looked like baguettes. They came out pretty good, but weren't quite as crusty as I was looking for. In retrospect, I suspect that if I let the pan of water run dry, instead of adding water during the process so there was always steam, the crust might have been better.
If you try again, do let the water go dry. It's only needed for the first few minutes of the baking. When I make Ciabatta, I use a metal pie pan that is preheated in the oven along with the baking stone (I preheat for an hour to make sure the stone is fully heated). After I put the loaves on the stone, I pour the water in the pan, and close the door. No more water is added, and I get a good crusty loaf with lovely voids, great for dipping in EVOO and herbs.
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