Monday, October 27, 2008

The crumb is creamy and has irregular holes.
The loaves proofing on a couche.
The dough after 18hours bulk fermentation.

Baguette again

It's that time of the year again when most of my colleagues are taking their annual holiday. When this happens, I'd be extremely busy as the workload would be shouldered by the rest of the team. This year, as fate would have it, Fornax the goddess of fertility has been busy and 3 of my colleagues had buns in their ovens if you know what I mean. This meant more work for the rest of us. While Fornax has been busy, she has not blessed me with good weather to fire up her namesake, the hearth or in my case, my beehive oven.

Busy schedule or not, there must still be be bread on the breakfast table and I was prompted to develop a schedule which will allow me to make bread even when I reach home a little later than normal. I settled for a preferment which will ripen fully in the morning. Before breakfast, I would mix it in the main dough and the bulk ferment will happen while I am at work. My process allows me to complete my bread easily before I turn in to bed, even when I am back late from work. The wonderful thing is that dough contact time is actually minimal and I am still able to watch a little TV and do the dishes. I like to do the dishes after after I have worked the dough because I can wash the dough off my hands while soaping up the dishes.

I have also been baking without a baking stone and minimal preheating. Somehow, the characteristics of my oven results in side splitting despite my slashes. After a while, they kind of look attractive although they are not in the form of the classic Parisian baguette by Ganachaud. In any case, the long fermentation process and minimal mixing result in a creamy crumb and the flavor was what made me fall in love with bread in the first place. Somehow, a simple homemade baguette with good butter and coffee is something that I can eat anytime of the day, everyday.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I have been on a baguette spree lately. Ironically, the simple baguette can be quite a challenge. Compared to other types of bread, I find that it is very difficult to make the perfect baguette. My goal is to make baguettes that look as good as Hamelman's and Ganachaud. I am getting nowhere near that at the moment and it is compounded by high energy costs. These days, I have been avoiding the use of a baking stone because of the long preheat times. Getting it to taste great is not the main issue as this can be achieved through correct fermentation processes. I have to console myself that modern prize winning baguettes by Gosselin and Anis Baoubsa don't exactly look like the classic baguette.

I have settled for poolish baguettes in most of my bakes because I find this suitable to my schedule and setup. The dough hydration was 70%,

The poolish took 12 hours and the main dough had a bulk fermentation for another 12 hours. The baguettes were baked at 220C for 10mins followed by 190C for another 20mins. Unfortunately, I did not manage to get a decent grigne and this is something I am striving to get without a baking stone. However, the crumb and flavor was to my satisfaction. All that open structure will make it perfect for this evening's curry dinner.