Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Do It


My five pound bag of AP flour is half gone already! So far it’s working pretty well! The textures of inside and outside seem consistently good. I feel like the taste was slightly better with the organic hard wheat flour which came in a tightly sealed bag, but it’s significantly better than the unbleached bread flour (with 4g of protein per 1/4 c) I’ve used previously.



Last week, Jeremy, from Stir the Pots, and I had a twitterthon while I was baking my baguettes and he was doing his laundry. The conversation went like this:

M: Baking more breads today. Please don't fail...
J: Go!
J: What are u baking, and why flat???
M: I'm baking baguettes today. Why flat? That's what I want to know! LOL
J: Are you proofing too long? Do you give a pre-shape before you do a final shape?
M: 1. First proofing is usually overnight in the fridge (12-18 hrs) but I'm using very small amount of yeast like 1/12 tsp.
M: 2. Pre-shaping: Yes
M: Actually this time wasn't too bad, but there is no big ear, grigne, and bloom...
J: Hmmm. why proofing overnite?
M: How long is too long? How much yeast do you use and how long do you usually ferment?
M: A couple of books I'm referencing both use the overnight proofing method.
J: Try 1st proof, shape then retard overnite...next day bake!
M: Ok! Thanks! I'll try! :)
J: Sorry out doing laundry! I use levain, most often no commercial yeast!
M: No problem! Thanks for the tips. I wish I could give you laundry tips in return, but unfortunately I don't have any!
J: No big deal, just do it, laundry and bread!

So, in addition to experimenting using AP flour, I tried his method “1st proof, shape then retard overnight” this week. I do use levain in my bread but I still kept adding very tiny amounts of commercial yeast (0.2g per one loaf of baguette). I need to take one change at a time to know exactly what’s working and not.


I owe Jeremy some major laundry tips, because as it turned out, Jeremy’s method worked like magic! It improved the texture of inside and outside, and height. The outside crust was not too thick was very crunchy while inside remained very soft and chewy with many big air pockets! The only thing that I still couldn’t manage was the big grigne. Unfortunately I only have one rack in my ancient oven. I tried looking up its parts number, but apparently additional/replacement racks just doesn’t exist anymore. I’m guessing that that’s one of the reasons for not being able to create beautiful grigne. I’m struggling to create tons of steam in the oven. What I’ve been doing so far with just a single rack is to heat up the oven to 500F with a cast iron in it and to pour water as the oven reaches 500F. Does anyone have suggestions other than my sauna method?



Thank you, Jeremy!


  1. Beautiful! That bread looks perfect.



  2. Looks good, laundry is no big deal!
    Baguettes may seem easy, just water flour and salt, oh and yeast, hardest bread to make!
    YOu did good, any other queries, feel free to stop by and ask!


  3. Wow, the bread looks great. I hope you plan on writing more about your bread, I'm really enjoying it. As for steam in a home oven, the idea of lava rocks seems to work very well. http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2007/07/02/steam/
    I haven't tried the method myself but I hope this gives you some ideas!

  4. OMG, this bread looks so mouthwatering! I want a bite right now!!!

  5. Your bread looks amazing! I love your persistence—it has paid off!!

  6. Beautiful bread - I love the crumb, looks perfect! As well that cutting board is amazing - where did you get it!!??


  7. This bread looks wonderful - would you post your recipe?

  8. Love this story and wow, I am staring at some serious works of bakery art!

  9. >Rosa

    Thank you for your help!

    That's a great idea! I'll definitely give it a try!

    Thanks. :)

    >Chez Us
    Thanks. I got it from Marshalls.

    One day, when I can make a perfect loaf... For now, this is what I used.
    160 g Unbleached Flour
    104 g water
    1g malt
    32 g leavin
    0.2g yeast
    2.9 g salt

    Thank you!