Baguettes or bread sticks?
Posted: 27 September 2009 11:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi all,

Does anyone have experience of the BB recipe for baguettes. Mine looked really good when they went into the oven, bursting out the top of my new baguette tin (birthday present),  but when they came out they had considerably shrunk to just over 1 inch diameter, much to the amusement of my family whose comments were ‘oh look Dad’s made some bread sticks’. How we laughed.

Anyway, can anyone suggest why this might have happened? My only excuse at the moment is that I may not have slashed the loaves deep enough, preventing expansion, but perhaps there was something more fundamental wrong with my technique.

Any advice gratefully received.

Phil

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Posted: 27 September 2009 01:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hello again Annie,

I’ve had the over-proofing problem before, but this seems different because the loaves actually shrunk from what was a respectable size before baking. Usually when over-proved they just don’t rise any bigger. Also this recipe has such a tiny amount of yeast that over-proofing should surely be less of a problem.

I followed the recipe as best I could although I omitted the 3 hours in the fridge, cos I just didn’t have time.  My kitchen temperature is about 68 F at the moment.

As I understood it, once the loaf is placed into a very hot oven, the yeast plays no further part in the process, as yeast is intollerent of heat; its the air trapped in the bubbles that expand as they rapidly heat up (oven spring). Have I completely misunderstood this? I have grown to accept the fact that my bread will never resemble those in Rose’s photographs because they never rise that high but shrinkage seems to be a different problem.

Regards

Phil

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Posted: 29 September 2009 04:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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OK thank you both for this. My next question, obviously, is how do I prevent the bread from over-proofing? It seems to be a persistant problem in my baking although I follow the recipes to the letter (usually).

The bread sticks were indeed very nice and when they’ve gone stale we found they make excellent doggy chews too. 

Phil

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Posted: 21 January 2014 03:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I just had the same problem on my first try to make baguettes by the convoluted and cumbersome “old bread plus Poolish” technique.  Everything looked and felt OK until the baking, then…nothing.  Dough went in and bread sticks came out.  I’m trying it again, but two observations:  The “old bread” was not sticky and the Poolish rose only to 1 cup total.  I’m using King Arthur Artisan that’s been around awhile; if it seems necessary, is it wise to increase the liquid portions of both??[/size]

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Posted: 22 January 2014 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The recipe is on page 335.  There is a suggested time schedule on page 340, which I meticulously followed.  I’m trying it again today.

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Posted: 22 January 2014 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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So RLB’s recipe is faulty?  She says it makes great baguettes!

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Posted: 23 January 2014 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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SO:  FreshKid says:  salt-to-yeast ratio is too high.  I should reduce the salt to = the yeast.
      Charles T says: salt-to-flour ratio is OK.   

      Both can be accommodated by increasing the yeast to = the salt.
 
      I’ve now tried the recipe twice, with identical failure.  Next tries:  (1) reduce the salt to = the recipe’s yeast, and (2) increase the yeast to = the recipe’s salt. 

      It’s disappointing that the recipe as published seems simply unworkable.
      Surely RLB made this work, so maybe there’s a typo in the printed version?  I’m new here; how can I bring this to her attention?

      Thanks for your helpful comments.  Stay tuned.

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Posted: 25 January 2014 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OK, so I tried yeast = salt at both high and low levels (1/8 tsp yeast and salt, then 1 tsp yeast and salt).  And the kitchen was warmer.  Both rose well in the preshaping proof, so the yeast lived through that!  After the shaping and refrigeration steps I proofed only 40 mins (instead of the recipe’s 90) because I was poking the finger and the depression was slowly filling in.  Voila!  Oven spring.  But not enough.  The crumb was still too moist (my perpetual bane) and the crust nearly impenetrable.  But progress was achieved.

I think the lower yeast/salt levels produced a slightly better result, more holes and slightly more tender crust.  So I will try that again with a difference in baking; perhaps even shorter post-fridge rise, lower baking temp and less steam. 

I wish there were someone on the forum who has succeeded in making RLB’s perfect crumb-showery baguette and could tell me it’s actually possible at home.  I’m not so sure.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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You will be overjoyed, I am sure, to learn that many iterations later I have made REAL baguettes - the kind that shower crumbs from a thin crust and are light and full of holes inside.  Part of the improvement was technique to be sure, but also, relative to RLB’s recipe: (1) 1/8 t more yeast (2) 6% whole wheat (3) lower oven temp (425) with NO induced steam and (4) two drops of honey at the dough-making stage.  That last would put a French baker in jail, but it did worlds of good for my rate and amount of rise.

This has succeeded three times in a row.  Just to be thorough I think I’ll return to the original recipe and see what I get.  Will it fail me as before?  Or will technique and/or more patience make it work now??

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Posted: 07 February 2014 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Two tries later, with 2% salt, then 1%.  Total failures.  No rise after refrigerator hold.  Honest, this recipe only works with low (0.8%) salt.

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