Recently, my baker friend Marcos Cerutti shared a baguette formula that uses high extraction flour which is a 80-percent milled wheat flour. He told me that it was something he learned from Jeffrey Hamelman. I tried it, going "all-out" on levain and no yeast. The results are pictured below.
Basile Kamir is a legendary Paris-based boulanger I have always wanted to meet. Visiting France a few years ago, I managed to find his bakery. It was August. He was closed. Damn! But I did buy a bread book he wrote, and have been trying some formulas, most recently for his "baguette au levain." I adapted it to the "do nothing method," and increased the hydration a bit. Ultimately the results were good. Tweak, tweak, tweak.
Here's a version of sourdough baguettes, benefit of Ian Lowe's Dropbox. Besides using his indirect retarding method before, this levain was spiked with a bit of sugar, something I had never considered. What came out? The best tasting and structured baguette I've done so far. The combination of Pivetti weak, as well as stronger protein flour, made for a perfect eggshell crunch and a crumb like satin. Damned if I won't paraphrase Ian's own description again, "The Special K flavor!"
While I've been sort of mute of late, it's due primarily to my getting the flu. I haven't baked, cooked or even made coffee all week. Well, enough is enough. Craving a decent loaf, I refreshed my levain and made three loaves. Or was it four? Whatever, most came out pretty awful. Seems like my levain had caught the same flu. Or just lacked refreshment. But I did have some success reproducing Quentin Berthonneau'sbaguettes. The secret was hybrid and a slow bulk 18-hour fermentation. Imperfect aesthetically but nice crumb and flavor. And now I sit back waiting for spring to inspire!
Inspired by Gregoire Michaud's EM micro-organism baguettes, I made a batch with wild yeast. The results were amazing. The crust was somewhat soft but still had an eggshell. And the crumb? Sublime and filled with the "Special K flavor," Ian Lowe's definition of umami!
Back to Louis Lamour's baguettetradition. Baked a few batches, including one for a charity function. Louis' formula is a sure path to a perfect Parisian baguette. And the steps are simple; autolyse, bassinage and retarde! If those terms are unfamiliar, I invite you to look them up for a robust explanation. In the meantime, I offer photos for inspiration. These are fabulously tasty with an eggshell crust and holey crumb!
Trying to test all of the invaluable formulas found on Ian Lowe's Instagram Dropbox feed, I recently gave a go to his bulk retard baguettes. Not a stranger to cold bulk baguettes, this formula led me to amazing results. Less chewy then the usual levain style baguette, check the innards on these! Fantastic flavor packed, and definitely egg shell crust beauties.
Clandestino baker Thierry Delabre shared a poolish baguette formula. It uses one gram of yeast, and an unconventional retarding of both the poolish and dough. They looked good, had great crunch and tasted deliciously wheaty.
My first batch reminded me that the road to baguette perfection has its own potholes. More precisely, whether my pre-shaping was too loose or I had not been vigilant in rotating the loaves, whatever, the results were a bit dark. But at the end, I got loaves specatularily riddled with a golden honeycombed crumb and flavorful from long bulk fermentation. Not perfecto but good enough to inspire further tries in the future.