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Old 04-05-2022, 02:09 AM   #1
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What's wrong with American baguettes?

I can't find a baguette in the USA as good as you get in France. This has puzzled me for years. I now have theory. derived from the role of terroir in wine. Making bread dough exposes the dough to the local air for long periods of time. There is yeast in the air. It gets into the dough and affects the taste of the final product. The yeast in the air in France is different from the yeast in North America air, and that's why we can't get a proper baguette.

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Old 04-05-2022, 03:26 AM   #2
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Not only is the wild yeast in the air in France different, but the yeast in the kitchens where the baguettes are made in France have been in use for a very long time and have extra of those yeasts.

OTOH, I find perfectly nice baguettes for sale here in Montréal. I'm pretty sure technique is part of the answer.
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Old 04-05-2022, 08:58 AM   #3
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Most people are unconsciously subject to a wide variety of cognitive biases, and many Americans seem to have the idea that European products and ways of doing things are superior to American counterparts. This makes me wonder how much of the idea that baguettes are better in France than in the United States can be attributed to confirmation bias. Different is not necessarily better.
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Old 04-05-2022, 08:59 AM   #4
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It is not only technique but ratio. Although technique is the major part.

Bakeries don't always have the equipment for lower end products.

eg. Steam plays a part in the crust.

Plus I don't believe (at least not now-a-days) that all that much "wild" yeast is used in France.

Guess I was typing while GG was... all that to say that taste and texture are subjective.
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Old 04-05-2022, 11:23 AM   #5
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...There is yeast in the air. It gets into the dough and affects the taste of the final product. The yeast in the air in France is different from the yeast in North America air, and that's why we can't get a proper baguette.
The water used in making the dough might affect the final product, too. New York bagel bakers use that claim, as well as Bourbon distillers in Kentucky.
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Old 04-05-2022, 11:41 AM   #6
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and along that subject... I have never had North American Crusty Dinner Roll as good as the ones in Germany.... just not the same.
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Old 04-05-2022, 12:04 PM   #7
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I've always wished I had the ability to notice the differences between fine European foods and everyday American stuff.


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Old 04-05-2022, 01:17 PM   #8
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I was thinking along the lines of what CG said. It's the water... Try using a bottle of Perrier once and see if there is a difference.
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Old 04-05-2022, 01:42 PM   #9
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I can't find a baguette in the USA as good as you get in France. This has puzzled me for years. I now have theory. derived from the role of terroir in wine. Making bread dough exposes the dough to the local air for long periods of time. There is yeast in the air. It gets into the dough and affects the taste of the final product. The yeast in the air in France is different from the yeast in North America air, and that's why we can't get a proper baguette.

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I cannot comment on the difference between French and American baguette because I have never French made baguette. Not only that, I cannot even comment on the kind of baguette you are talking about as I have never had one either. But I can comment on baguette I get here in one local shop, called "Breadsmith" in MN. They make excellent baguettes and I love them.

But my main point is we cannot compare things they make in Europe to what they make in US. They are simply different because tastes are different.
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Old 04-05-2022, 06:49 PM   #10
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Then there's another major ingredient, that can make a big difference - flour! While most places are just using everyday white flour, or white bread flour, there are more expensive and flavorful flours available out there; some higher end bakeries and restaurants use the various "artisan flours" out there - some with specialty farmers and flour mills producing some flour just for them. This probably happens more over in France, but it happens here, too. Where people are willing to pay for it, it's available. And besides specialty varieties of wheat, it also gives it a better when it is refined not quite as much, resulting in a slightly darker flour - still white flour, but darker, when held next to regular flour.

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Old 04-05-2022, 07:33 PM   #11
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I've always wished I had the ability to notice the differences between fine European foods and everyday American stuff.
I know what you mean, Ross. Or more like the opportunity , although I have no real burning desire to travel abroad. I mentally edited the title of this thread to "What's different with American baguettes?". While I've never had a baguette in France, I have had some rather tasty baguettes that I've bought here in the good, ol' U.S. of A. They've been few and far between, and need a real, from scratch bread shop baking it. Sadly, the closest we have to a boutique bakery near us is...Panera. There is an excellent shop in the suburban Akron OH area called Breads. They offer a variety of very tasty loaves, some of which are very creative.
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Old 04-05-2022, 09:50 PM   #12
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I thought I read somewhere that if you make bread you should use a bottled water that is purified, since there is fluoride and impurities in much of our city water.

That makes me wonder about our water. I'm on well water right now and it's very good, but I have no idea what's in it.
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Old 04-05-2022, 11:21 PM   #13
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I’ve had baguettes in France and in the US. There really is a difference . The same goes for croissants , and even more so. And I’ve never had an omelette in the US that compares to what I’ve had in Paris.

OTOH, you can’t get great barbecue, wings, tacos, etc in France.

There difference is huge! I don’t know what it is, the water, the flour, the yeast, but they make their foods much better than we can copy them. And we make better gumbo, bbq, etc, than they do.

I will be back in Paris in July and eat croissants and omelette. And I will come home and have shrimp and grits and bbq.
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Old 04-06-2022, 01:36 AM   #14
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I've always wished I had the ability to notice the differences between fine European foods and everyday American stuff.


Ross
If you can tell the difference between the taste of a hamburger and a pork chop, you can tell the difference between EU foods & their US counterparts. Its your problem, not mine, if you refuse to open your mind to new experiences.
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Old 04-06-2022, 03:12 AM   #15
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kb, are you saying that if one doesn't drag their butt to Europe, they aren't open to new experiences? Because cost and logistics is a bit more involved than a short drive in the car...
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Old 04-06-2022, 03:21 AM   #16
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I can't find a baguette in the USA as good as you get in France
That´s a very subjective statement. Like saying " I can´t find a taco as good as in Mexico" or "I can´t find Cheddar cheese as good as in England".
It´s because you won´t. The place of origin dictates the flavour, texture, colour, etc.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Look for some good local bread!
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Old 04-06-2022, 06:07 AM   #17
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If you can tell the difference between the taste of a hamburger and a pork chop, you can tell the difference between EU foods & their US counterparts. Its your problem, not mine, if you refuse to open your mind to new experiences.
You, of course, are correct.

As diligently as I tried, I could not find decent biscuits and gravy nor southern fried chicken, in Cancun.

I left, shaking my head, thinking "What the hell is wrong with these people?"

Ross
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Old 04-06-2022, 10:09 AM   #18
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A few years back, while visiting at a friends' house, another guest told of her recent trip to Paris. She had accompanied her DH on a business trip to France. While she knew her DH would be busy with business and she would be left on her own, she couldn't resist the opportunity. She had spent some time in Paris when studying abroad. She loved the food and the baked goods. Although, since school days, she has become gluten intolerant. But, since hubby was busy, she figured why not indulge a bit. She fully expected to become ill, but she felt it worth it. Only, she didn't get ill. She enjoyed breads and pastries and all sorts of items full of gluten. No ill effects!

She was beside herself with happiness. Her GF days were behind her! On the flight back to the U.S. she had crackers with her soup. And that's where the gluten tolerance ended. Turns outs, the FLOUR in Europe is very different from the flour in the U.S. While the U.S. has "developed" grains that are more resistant to disease, Europe did not follow that same path. So, back in the U.S. she's back to a GF diet.

Sad. I did tell her that I would try some of the imported flours, etc. I've never followed up with her to see if she did...our mutual friends have since moved from Washington, so no more parties there. I'll have to remember to ask them about her.
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Old 04-06-2022, 03:41 PM   #19
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Yup, how the grains were bred, what's in the soil and water, all make a difference. I was startled by the potatoes in Denmark. They taste exactly the same as the ones in North America that I have tasted, but they seem to have about twice as much potato flavour. I really enjoyed those potatoes.
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Old 04-06-2022, 05:30 PM   #20
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How the baguettes taste in France is interesting but not relevant to me. I worry more about which bakery near my home offers the best baguette. There are definite differences. From what's available, I find Panera baguettes are the best.
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