Baguettes, again

So recently I’ve been making more baguettes. I tried the Weekend Bakery 80% hydration recipe using a T65 from Wessex Mill. It has a protein content of 8.8% (I asked them… because I am a nerd). I don’t know how well this matches the T65 WB uses, but it was just too wet. Far wetter than the dough they’re working with here. I didn’t take any photos, partly because it wasn’t going too well, partly because my hands were too goopy. The baguettes were alright, but not amazing.

I then thought I’d go back to the Bertinet recipe I’d used before and had good results with. He uses a fermented dough made with fresh yeast, added to flour/water/yeast/salt which ends up at just over 70% hydration. I like using T55, but it’s challenging, especially with a partly fermented dough because I think the overnight fermenting breaks down some of the protein, and as the T55 is already pretty low, this might be part of why my results aren’t the best. This time, I made the fermented dough (which sits overnight in the fridge) with Canadian flour – nice and strong! For the rest of the dough, I used 2/3 Canadian, 1/3 T55 and let it sit for half an hour before mixing them together (ie autolyse approach). I used fresh yeast and used Bertinet’s kneading method. I know you don’t need to knead much to develop the gluten, but I like his method because you do get a nice bouncy dough quickly and I think it incorporates a lot of air. I kneaded without adding the salt.

Before kneading, it was right on the edge of too wet and a smidge difficult to handle. A few minutes later it was gorgeously bouncy and just holding its shape. Then I kneaded in the salt and it was sitting up proudly in the bowl when I set it to rise. No pictures – I was in a rush.

I shaped it by cutting into pieces, keeping the dry surface intact and letting it rest 15 minutes after cutting it up. I then turned the dry side down onto the floured bench, stretched the dough into a long, flat piece and rolled it up, trying to maintain a fair bit of tension. Pressed down the join to make a much stronger spine that I usually do, then put to rise in my makeshift couche (ie a teatowel) loaded with spelt flour.

Baked at 250C with MASSES of steam. I baked some one a baking stone, some on a baking tray and oddly, got better results on the tray. Here they are:

I had let them rise but put them in when a finger pressed into the dough sprang back halfway so they would have some oven spring. I was surprised, though, that the second batch (the ones above), which had risen more, had greater oven spring.

The texture inside is ok, a bit close still and could have more large holes. But still tasty.

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I still can’t make them predictably, and oddly the loaf I made at the same time was good but no oven spring. Next time – more photos. I’m determined to keep making them until I feel I can get them as I want them every time.