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First really successful baguettes in my WFO

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  • First really successful baguettes in my WFO

    I've been practicing making Hamelman's baguettes with poolish from his book Bread for the last couple of months. Each time they've tasted great, but have had various crust or crumb issues.

    Tonight a combination of new factors made them much better than ever. I did a bold bake, so they were nicely darkened on top (and not burned on the bottom!) and the crust, for once, never softened (unfortunately we had friends over for dinner and we ate all four of them before I could photograph them).

    Here was my workflow:
    1) Fired the oven for two hours. Completely cleared the dome.
    2) Raked out the coals and swept the ashes
    3) Put a cast iron pan filled with lava rocks in the back of the oven. I used a technique I read about on The Fresh Loaf blog: I placed a perforated pie pan on top of the lava rocks (more about this below). I also put an old metal loaf pan in the oven and sealed the oven with the insulated door.
    4) Let the oven sit for two hours. At this point, the temp was 550.
    5) Poured about 1/3 cup boiling water into the loaf pan and loaded the dough into the oven. As soon as it was loaded I poured ~1 cup of ice cubes onto the perforated pie plate set on top of the cast iron pan. As the ice melted, it dripped water onto the lava rocks, creating steam.
    6) Vented the door for about 30 seconds at the half-way mark to let the steam out.
    7) Once the loaves looked done, I removed the door and let them sit in the oven for another minute before removing them.

    It was really satisfying to finally have a crust that lasted. I'm always so disappointed when baguette crusts soften after they cool. Can't wait to practice another couple of loaves. Next time I'll take pictures!

  • #2
    Re: First really successful baguettes in my WFO

    I also use the ice cube technique for bread, but just throw in 4 cubes on the floor before sliding in the bred. Did you have a shaped tray for the baguettes, a flat tray, or place them directly on the floor?
    Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


    • #3
      Re: First really successful baguettes in my WFO

      David - I put them directly on the floor. I made a baguette peel out of plywood, which I sanded to make very smooth. It works pretty well, I don't even have to put anything on it, the dough slides right off.

      As an aside, this video is the best demonstration of shaping baguettes that I've come across: http://www.youtube.com/v/OI-WstoakmQ&hl=en_US&fs=1