I skipped ahead on the BBA challenge. I wanted to go through the book in order, but I didn’t have time to bake bagels this weekend. They take two days to make, and I wasn’t home enough to bake them. This is a difficulty in bread baking at home-although bread is easy to make, one must tend to the dough according to the starter, risings, and baking, which can be time consuming and inconvenient.
My mentor, Mr. Esteban, enjoys savory breads rather than enriched, sweet breads. I could have moved on to brioche, but I thought he would have appreciated a crusty, slightly sour French loaf more, and I have been itching to try French bread. Also, I felt like I was teasing him about my bread baking- telling him about it, but not making anything for him. I hope he enjoys the baguettes!
Reinhart begins with a pate fermente, an overnight starter which lends the final dough more flavor. It is simple- it combines flour, water, salt, and yeast into a rather stiff dough. I let the dough rise for about an hour, and then refrigerated overnight.
The next morning, I let the pate fermete warm up, and cut it into smaller pieces so I could incorporate it into the final dough. Like the pate fermente, the bread contained the same proportions of ingredients. After mixing with flour, salt, yeast, water and pate fermente into a ball, I kneaded it for about 6 minutes, or until I could easily use the windowpane test. Out of pure laziness, I kneaded the dough in the machine, rather than by hand. I feel more connected to the dough when I knead by hand, but, I was tired and didn’t want to dirty the counters.
After the dough is kneaded, it rests for about two hours, to rise for the first time. Then I shaped the baguettes like I thought I should. I spread the dough out, and folded it into thirds like letters. I proceeded to elongate them into their proper shape. However, after making them I went on Youtube (great idea, huh?) and watched the proper way. After folding in thirds, you’re supposed to create tension on the outside of the bread by rolling it up in two separate “folding/rollings.” Afterwards, you gently seal the bread with the heel of your palm and then proceed elongating. Next time, I guess.
I let the dough rise for the last time for two hours. I do not have a lame yet, so I cut the slits with a pairing knife. On two of the loaves, I cut rather perpendicular, leaving the slashes not very attractive. However, on the third, the slashes were much more pronounced because I used a 45 degree angle.
After I took them out of the oven, I could hear the crusts crackling. I was so excited-they looked promising. After they had cooled, I sliced a piece. The crumb was rather dense, not holey and airy like I imagine a true baguette. I was rather disappointed, but the flavor made up for it-it had true bread flavor.
So, I don’t know- maybe I’ll make these again. I really like the use of the pate fermente and it was very cool to shape baguettes. However, the crumb was really disappointing, and for taking two days and substantial hands on time, I felt cheapened.
This post can be seen on Yeast Spotting- a really cool site dedicated to bread!