The Wood-Fired Blog

Chocolate Color Baguettes

Back to baguettes and color. These have an almost chocolate color,and they lack that nice golden glow that I like in a baguette. It must be something to do with oven temperature and caramelization. These used the same Central Milling AP flour that I used in a batch of baguettes a few weeks ago, and I did a pre-ferment overnight in the refrigerator.

So many variables.

These we OK, but I want more. Better color, better oven spring, better scoring. haha.

Critiquing my Baguettes

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.

3,200 Calories a Day

You might have noticed that I bake a of bread — so what do we do with all of it? We don’t have a huge family, I don’t give my bread to neighbors or sell it, and I don’t throw it away after I test a new oven. And I don’t have a crazy high carb diet.

Baking has been a hobby that I have enjoyed for years. I bought a copy of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice in 2001, which really got me hooked on artisan bread. It was Peter’s wonderful book that led me to build my first brick oven, which led to Forno Bravo. Fun. For me, FB was the intersection between two of my hobbies — bread baking and building (I’ve done 10 large home building projects over the past 20 years).

Today I have a new symbiotic intersection. Baking and eating. Leading up to a race, I run about 80 miles a week, so in order to maintain my weight, I need to eat roughly 3,200 calories a day. So eating lots of healthy homemade bread works out really well.

Here are yesterday’s baguettes finishing up in a prototype oven.