A FlickrMirror by Pomax

Making baguette

Based on repeated requests for recipes and "how do I make that?" remarks, a visual guide to making baguette, as a Flickr album.

2015-04-03 10:59:56

Let's start with the baguette basics: flour, water, salt, yeast. Nothing more

No milk, eggs, butter, we'll be making plain old proper French bread. In weight ratios:

- 160% yesterday's dough
- 100% all purpose flour
- 65% water
- 1.9% salt
- 0.64% yeast

If you don't like to google, in my case that typically means 750gr, 468gr, 305gr, 9gr, and 3gr, respectively, yielding a total amount of dough roughly twice the amount of matured dough, which makes it easy to bake half, and put the other half in the fridge as tomorrow's "yesterday's dough".

"Wait, hold up, what about yesterday's dough if I don't have any dough yet? The heck am I going to get that?" good question!

Regular baking is a continuous affair, but if you have no starter dough, I start my "day 1" with making a dough the only purpose of which is to be used the next day for reals. This starts as a 250gr:250gr flour water "batter" with about a teaspoon of yeast. That gets to sit at room temperature until it heavily bubbles (4~8 hours depending on room temperature), after which I mix it up to a real dough with 250gr flour and a teaspoon of salt. That goes into the fridge and slow-rises until the next day.

NOTE: this is the first photograph in an album of start-to-finish baking baguette

2015-04-03 11:02:07

Mix all the things, minus yesterday's dough

mix the salt into the flour, and the yeast into the water, and when both are well mixed, combine! I use a kitchenaid with a dough hook for mixing, rather than hand mixing. The reasons for this are purely practical (it's less work, and allows for far more consistent repeating of a recipe), but unlike most people I will refuse to run it at any speed higher than 2 for dough. we're making bread, not whipping cream. Slow but steady makes tasty bread.

2015-04-03 11:02:44

Not quite yet...

while this looks pretty mixed, this is not mixed yet. At this stage, the ingredients are "mixed", but the water hasn't wrapped around all the flour yet, actually leaving the dough drier than it will be once everything's settled properly.

2015-04-03 11:02:11

Mix in yesterday's dough

tear up yesterday's dough into a number of small, easily added chunks, so you can add them to the dough while it's mixing.

2015-04-03 11:04:01

There we go.

That's mixed. Add your chunks of matured dough to this fresh dough one by one, so you don't overload the mixer, and keep that sucker doing the kneading for you.

2015-04-03 11:04:51

Looks about right.

After 5 minutes of mixing the fresh dough, and then another 5 minutes of mixing in the matured dough, we end up with something like this. Let's ball that up

2015-04-03 11:10:55

Looking good.

You might think that looks a little lumpy: that's actually fine. Magic is going to happen as the yeast does its thing. To make sure it does that, let's apply some more kitchen science.

2015-04-03 11:29:53

Heat mats. The best $40 you can spend if you care about bread

I have a $12 proofing box with a $40, 20" x 20" heating mat designed for cultivating seedlings, under the logic that the temperatures that are ideal for seedlings happen to also be ideal for yeast.

Throw in a $20 thermostat and you have yourself a thermo-regulating setup for $75, instead of $750 for an actual professional proofer. Spend the rest on a good kitchen mixer, and you'll still have several hundred bucks left.

The dough will be sitting at 30C (86F) here for two hours.

2015-04-03 13:30:52

We have volume doubling.

After two hours at 30C, the dough will have doubled in volume. Let's see that in more detail

2015-04-03 12:28:34

After one hour

Vapours! A good start, I'll see you in another hour.

2015-04-03 13:31:36

Compare this to the earlier shot

That's a lot of expansion, because of the gasses that form when the yeast eats flour and burps alcohol. Gotta love yeast.

2015-04-03 13:32:19

Time to make a choice

After taking out the dough and punching it down (to get all the built up gas out again), we need to make an important decision: which half do we keep, and which do we store for tomorrow?

2015-04-03 13:32:52


Naturally this is an arbitrary choice; after cutting the dough in two, one part gets stored for tomorrow, the other we'll continue to work with to make actual honest to god French bread.

2015-04-03 13:33:28

Into the fridge with you.

I'll see you tomorrow.

2015-04-03 13:34:54

Portion the dough

Bread is not really all that heavy. I'll be making three loaves, each a little under 250gr (8.8oz). Shaping them is basically a three step process.

2015-04-03 13:35:47

Step 1: rollin'

The first step is to just roll the dough down the work area, somewhere around five times per portion, to form crude "batard" shapes.

2015-04-03 13:36:38

Step 2: rollin'

After doing all three, pick up the first one, and repeat, forming sausagees. Don't overdo it, just get them to rough shape and move on to the next one.

2015-04-03 13:37:40

Step 3: rollin'

And repeat. The third time we should end up with long, relatively thin bread sausages. We're talking 1.5", 2" wide at most.

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