I had some fun trying new things yesterday baking baguettes. Sadly, it was raining, so I didn’t fire my outdoor oven, and had to do this indoors. In general, I have a couple of takeaways.
First, flour matters. I’ve been experimenting with different flours for my white hearth breads, and have been using a lot of Trader Joe’s All Purpose Flour, and try as I might, I just couldn’t get the crust to brown nicely. I tried hotter; I tried longer and it just wouldn’t cooperate. These baguettes were made using Central Milling Organic AP flour, which was really nice to work with, and I got pretty nice color. These took 15-20 minutes at 480F. You can bake your baguettes hotter than that in your pizza oven.
Second, you can’t be cautious and properly score your loaves. The three loaves on the right were scored first and put in the oven as a batch. I tried to carefully follow the scoring guidelines — keeping the slashes inside imaginary tracks on the sides of the loaves, overlapping by 1/3, a 30 degree angle, etc. But I scored the loaves so slowly that I didn’t really make a deep enough cut. The three loaves on the left were scored as a second batch, and I went wild trying to get maximum cuts using a much faster motion — and it worked a lot better.
This is daunting. You need to be fast and aggressive, and accurate and precise — all at the same time.
Third, I think I have been over-hydrating my dough. The really wet dough seems to sag sideways, and doesn’t give me a round loaf. These were only 65% hydration, with no pre-fermentation (yes, I know), but they came out nicely.
The family enjoyed these, which is always a good sign.