The hearty baguettes (failed attempt)

Baked my second ever bread today! Yay!

I have been excited the whole week after I have baked my very first bread, quite randomly and without much of a thinking or knowing what I was doing. It turned out to be hearty and lovely loaf ūüôā

After watching countless of videos, reading blogs and other written material on the internet, and contemplation, I have decided that this time I would have a better chance of experimenting, recording, observing, and most importantly, achieving a nicely risen bread.

I also decided to go with basic bread today (i.e. no veggie or seeds added) Рwanted to see whether I could do this.

I recorded time, amount of ingredients, and poking/kneading activities I have done during the making of this bread. Ahem, I also had lots of thoughts and feelings going thru me; they are too dully noted.

Here they are:


Yeast mixture

Ingredients: 1 pkg of traditional dry yeast (8 grms) and 1/2 table spoon of white sugar mixed with 200 mls of warm water. I generally followed the instructions on the package Рnothing fancy here.

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) This time water was really warm, but not hot (I checked with my finger and it was not an annoying temperature). Mixed well with a spoon and let stand for 10 minutes. I twice mixed the liquid with the spoon in between for a consistent mixture.

Through the end, the mixture¬†started to give its¬†distinct, nourishing, and lovely smell ūüôā


Dough mixture

Ingredients: 400 mls (211 grms) of whole wheat flour and 400 mls of enriched all purpose flour (the conversions are based on an internet site; I do not have baking cups or a balance to weigh the flour; but I do have a liquid measuring cup. So I went with this rather simple measurement).

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I mixed the¬†flour¬†well in a container with my hands and making sure that the flour gets “air”. I then added the yeast mixture and mixed them all lightly. It very easily formed a nice and smooth dough. It was a little bit sticky but not too much. A little bit of extra flour helped get rid of the dough from my hand.

Surprisingly,¬†I did not need to add flour or water – looks like I just got the right amounts ūüôā

2) I then formed an imperfect and round dough to which I also added salt, and put aside for a minute or so. (They say that salt can inhibit the action of yeast- that is why I added the salt at the end).


Rising of the dough

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1) I turned on the oven for a minute to make it a warm environment for my dough to rise. I immediately turned it off after making sure that inside temperature was warm. I placed the dough in the oven, which I had covered loosely with cling wrap.

2) Half an hour later, I took the dough out and tried “pull and fold” technique I had seen in multiple places. This is supposed to help with the formation of “gluten” protein. The pull and fold technique is¬†rather a gentle procedure to prevent from breaking the gluten.

The dough had risen a little bit and was sticky and did not fold well, but I pulled it 3-4¬†times. This almost brought it back to its original size. I was saddened a little bit, thinking that I have done something wrong ūüė¶ and put it back in the oven, this time also placing a clean towel on top of the wrap).

I also sprinkled the top of the dough with some flour (mom told so – thank you mom!).

3) As someone who is intrigued and not sure what she is doing, I admit I took the dough out around 5-6 times during the 2-hours in-oven rising saga, and checked whether the dough was rising. And the great news: Yes, it was!

Each time I did that I was also aware that the temperature in the oven would have been lost, so I made sure that the container was still warm – and to my surprise it was okay the first 1.5 hours. After that I left the oven light on to keep it warm

I took a picture 1 and 2 hours¬†of rising. 1¬†hour rising was really cool ūüôā¬†

4. After 2 hours of rising in the oven, the dough had risen so much that I could not even believe that someone like me (who does not like cooking or is patient enough) could help make such a wonderful thing. What a beauty ūüôā ūüôā ūüôā

I was also not sure whether it rose too much РI read somewhere that it was not good for the loaf :((

As recommended, I gently pressed down the dough to let gas out and moved on with shaping the loafs.

But wait…. The dough¬†went down to its original size pretty fast… Did I do something wrong?? Will it rise again?? Is this tears in my eyes and¬†disappointment that breaks my heart??

Considering the small volume of the dough, I decided to make baguettes.


Shaping the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

Dough was stickier than I expected. So, after collecting myself and telling myself over and over that there was still life in the dough :), I added a fistful of flour to the mixture and I rolled/kneaded it gently on a floured surface.

Then I cut it into 4 pieces with a bread knife.¬†I rolled the dough pieces with my hand until they became long and thin, pressed them down a¬†little bit with my hands (well… maybe I pressed them too much….), wrapped around with a dry towel, and let the¬†mini baguettes¬†rest for 60¬†min again in the oven with the lights on.

I really hoped that they would rise again; they were so tiny….

So after 25 min in the oven with lights on, I checked them and they were not rising!¬† ūüė¶

The oven was not warm enough, I thought Рso I turned on the oven for a minute or so until it reached 120 F and let them rest for another 85 min (total 1 hour 50 min), checking in between to see how they were doing.

At around 1 hour of the rising, I noticed that some baguettes (well covered) rose more than one other and were more moist. I also noticed that they were getting a little bit dry Рso I sprinkled water on them with my finger tips.

And, boy! They rose ¬†little bit again! ūüôā

I believe moisture helped them rise- good thinking ūüôā


Baking the baguettes

Procedure, observations, and feelings:

1. Awed by the rising success, I joyfully slashed the surface of my little beauties 5 times (not too deep).

2. Mixed 1 table spoon of olive oil with equal amount of water and brushed the mixture on top of the baguettes.

3. I sprinkled an oven tray with cornmeal and placed the baguettes in it. Baked at 375 F for 50 min (they recommend a higher temperature and less baking time, yet I am a little bit chickened of high oven temperatures).

4. During this time, I took the baguettes out and sprinkled water 3 times (each time around 20 ml/baguette) on top of them to achieve the crispy texture. I also did that after I took them off the oven and covered with a clean towel to keep them moist.



Lessons learnt

1. Use more flour next time – may be 500 ml of each type (whole wheat and white flour) to have a larger dough.

2. Baguette shaping is important.  Try a more regular folding/shaping technique. Also, I guess it is better to rest the baguettes on the oven tray rather than on another surface -the transfer after the rise to the oven tray caused thinning of some parts of the dough.

3. The first rise was satisfactory, but the second rise was a little bit less than awesome. I wonder whether with a larger piece of dough and better handling, this could have been achieved.

4. Oven rising works. Moisture helps rising. Cornmeal prevents sticking of the dough to the oven tray, but next time I can use a little bit more.

5. I might have pressed the baguette too much while shaping prior to the second rise. They kind of lacked depth ūüė¶

6. Have adequate amount of butter at home!! After the baguettes were done, I could only have a couple of slices of baguette with butter melting in them….. One should have more ūüôā

7. Follow a recipe – they are there for a reason.


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