June 5, 2011


Next up was baguette, another indirect fermentation dough with a starter called poolish, which was made the day before with 3 lbs of bread flour, 48 fl oz of water, and a big pinch of instant dry yeast (available at the supermarket).

baguette mise-en-place

Here you have the ingredients for a single batch, but we usually made a double batch: 7lbs of bread flour, 1 oz of instant dry yeast, 6lbs of poolish, 59.5 fl oz of water, and 3.25 oz of salt - enough to yield about twenty 14 oz baguettes. The flour and yeast were mixed together first (so the yeast wouldn't be shocked by the water or killed by the salt), then the others were added and mixed for 4 minutes on low speed and 2 minutes on medium speed.

Fermentation went for 40 minutes, fold, 30 minutes, fold, 20 minutes, done (abbreviated 40 30 20).

portioned baguette

Once done, the dough was portioned into 14 oz pieces and preshaped into oblongs - rolled and folded three times (kind of as you would a letter for the mail, except there there's only two folds) - and rested with the seam side down.

rolling baguettes

Once the last piece of dough was portioned, the first one was about ready to be shaped, so we just went in order, turning the dough pieces over, flattening it, doing the roll and fold thing again (this time with the last seam sealed), then using our hands flat, applying pressure, rolling from the middle outwards until the baguettes were as long as the wooden boards we proofed them on.

baguettes for proofing

The cloth used for prevent the doughs from sticking (to each other and the board) is known as a couche, which coincidentally means "diaper" in French. Anyway, the baguettes on boards went into the proofer for about an hour.

baguettes loaded

Then we loaded them onto the bread oven belt, transferring them first from the cloth to a floured board then from the floured board to the belt (so each baguette's shape would be retained). The baguettes were each slashed diagonally five times with the lame knife, then pushed into the pre-steamed oven.

[Note: these baguettes were slashed once across, differentiating them as the 10 oz Vietnamese banh mi baguettes. The reason why we made these in addition was because I had brought my mom a regular baguette I made and she said they didn't taste like the Vietnamese baguettes we ate growing up. So I asked Chef what the difference was, and he told me to make baguettes with lean dough (direct fermentation dough without a starter), to take out the slight sour taste. He also had me mix the dough on high for a long time to promote gluten development and incorporate lots of air, so the baguette crumb would be tight with lots of small holes, instead of more hollow with irregular holes. The lean dough recipe is basically 10 lbs bread flour, 1.3 oz instant dry yeast, 107 fl oz water, 3.5 oz salt - fermentation 30 30 15.]

baguettes from the oven

The baguettes baked until they were golden, almost brown (I checked the internal temperature just to make sure - 220F), then taken out to cool.

baguettes baked

And there you have it - baguettes!

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