#1  
Old 01-26-2010, 03:38 PM
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Default Loaf Shape?

A question to throw out here. I've got a pretty good handle on the crumb issue now, but ...

When I shape baguettes or longer shaped loaves they go in nice and narrow, but end up flatter and wider than desired. It's like they melt and seem to expand more in width than height :-) . These doughs, Hammelman's white or wheat sourdough mainly, are ~60-65% hydration, which is definitely pliable, but not cibatta consistency. I bake at 500-550* F. I was using a sprayer for steam, but went back to a sheet pan with a glass of water. Any ideas what could help here?
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:11 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Hi Pdiff!

Couple of ideas... Conventional "french style" baguettes are usually in the 60 percent hydration range so you are on the wet side of normal and that will tend to equate to spreading. I assume you are using GP. 65% is pretty wet for GP. I would suggest sticking to 58 or 60 percent until you get that working well.

(Yes there are wetter baguette doughs, but...)

Kneading the dough and shaping a baguette is nontrivial - especially for wetter doughs. You need enough gluten development to keep it from overly sagging. The shaping needs to create enough surface tension to keep it from excessively sagging. The finished loaf needs to be light and well proofed but yet it needs to be underproofed some so the oven spring can lift the loaf. Timing is pretty critical. Great baguettes are hard which is why they are one of the key skills in bread competitions.

Hang in there!
Jay
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Old 01-27-2010, 07:21 PM
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Thanks, Jay. A wealth of information as usual! I should trust my instincts more, I guess. I had suspected these things, especially the hydration. I also want to try to temper my slashing too as I can get carried away with that.

Speaking of which, I saw a great video the other day. It was a Julia Child show from the 70's and she was making "French" bread. That was interesting in itself, but the good part was when she showed a clip from a visit she made to a bakery in Paris (I don't think it was Poilaine, but I could be wrong). There were some really good shots of his slashing technique and using a baguette board to move the loaves. If anyone out there has access to these DVDs or NetFlix, this was the 3rd disk of "The French Chef 2 with Julia Child". It's worth a watch, IMO. If it isn't available on NetFlix, it's because I still have it and need to pop it in the mail

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Old 01-28-2010, 04:12 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

The only thing wrong with the video (I think I know which one) is it is SO LONG! But...pretty good. Have you seen the video with 500 "whacks" (effectively 500 folds). (As I recall her French friend splats the bread on the counter and sort of folds it as she grabs it 500 times. I tried it and it definitely gave a strong, well worked texture that stands up well to slashing.

In general, baguettes should not open much on slashing. If they do the dough is too slack.

An alternative (but an "always flat" one) is Pain l'Ancienne from the Reinhart books that has no slashing.

I don't think your steaming contributes to sag in any way. Good steaming can enable sagging (by keeping the crust soft) but gives the crust you want!

Good Luck!
Jay
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Quote:
Originally Posted by texassourdough View Post
The only thing wrong with the video (I think I know which one) is it is SO LONG! But...pretty good. Have you seen the video with 500 "whacks" (effectively 500 folds). (As I recall her French friend splats the bread on the counter and sort of folds it as she grabs it 500 times. I tried it and it definitely gave a strong, well worked texture that stands up well to slashing.
This must be a different clip, as it is pretty short (actually two clips as part of her 30 min show), but Julia does use the fold and whack kneading method. The French man (Prof. Cavelle?) goes through an elaborate patting,folding and rolling routine to form the loaf (a long snake of dough). His lame looks pretty specialized. It is bent such that, when he holds it vertical at about 90* to the loaf, the blade is actually cutting at an angle. He basically pokes it into the loaf and then draws it back with two distinct motions. It looks like a bent scalpel. Maybe it is.

A lot of over analysis on my part here, but like the Poilaine video posted in the vids section, it's a beautiful thing to watch a professional like that work with such ease.

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Old 02-11-2010, 01:18 PM
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Just a quick followup on the loaf shape. I finally got to fire up the oven last weekend and try a lower hydration dough. I actually got it a bit too dry for texture, but it definitely did improve the shape and prevent the meltdowns I was getting. Hopefully (weather permitting) I can try again this weekend with a bit more hydration. The bread is Hammelman's Roasted Potato (doubled).
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:13 AM
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Those are gorgeous!
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:19 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Great slashes! Look good!

With experience in forming (which will create loaves that hold their shape better) and more perfect kneading (which will come) you can increase the hydration and get an more open crumb, but if either of the above are off, you tend to get puddles (wide and flat!)

Great work!
Jay
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:38 PM
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Default Re: Loaf Shape?

Geez, you guys know how to boost an ego! :-) Thanks for the compliments. I'm going to have to start posting here more often .

I have another round planned for the weekend if it doesn't rain too hard. That, and a batch of chocolate croissants :-) Shhhhh! It's a surprise for VD....

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Old 02-15-2010, 05:56 PM
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Default Round two:

Another try with a white sourdough. I ended up kneading in about an extra cup of flour to get the consistency I thought I needed. The Bātards came out well and the baguettes not too bad. The lift in those was limited as I mucked them up a bit during loading. I've never used a baguette board (AKA a piece of 1 x 6 pine I had laying around) before and stretched them out too much unloading. I'm still pleased with them, though. I think I will clean up the board for better performance. It was fun making such a long piece of dough :-)

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