After my epic fail this past Saturday, I knew that I had to make up for it. But though those loaves definitely turned out wonky, they still tasted really good, and the family didn’t complain, though they did have a good laugh about my mutant bread (shown below).
But as I shared in my previous post, I did understand what I had done wrong. So given that, I had to put those lessons to the test.
First of all, I made absolutely sure my baking stone was set to go, and I pre-heated it for well over an hour before I baked. I also made sure that my loaves were completely proofed before I even considered baking them.
For my baguettes, I used a different shaping technique than what I have been using because I felt that the original technique I learned didn’t create enough tension on the surface. So I watched this video featuring master baker Scott Megee from The Artisan Crust channel:
I tell you what! That technique is the S%&T! I love the stitching technique that Scott uses. I did that and it I felt that it really gave me a more even distribution of the dough through the loaf.
Pre-shaping is so important! So is the bench rest immediately after the pre-shape. I also realized that I didn’t bench rest either loaf for very long on Saturday’s fail. But this time I took a good 20 minutes to let the dough settle down before I did the final shape. That combined with the new shaping technique made both loaves come out perfect!
As for the boule, I couldn’t be happier. I was a little concerned at the start of the bake because I kind of misjudged placing the dough on my stone and I had to pull it out, then reposition and all that movement kind of collapsed the loaf. But luckily it didn’t affect the oven spring.
I feel redeemed! Both the baguettes and the boule fit my archetype of artisan bread. The crust on both kinds are crackly with good ears; especially on the baguettes!
Bread making to me is very much like playing golf. I could be playing like crap and getting super-angry while I duff or skull or hook or slice. Then I hit a perfect shot. The club strikes the ball right in the middle of the sweet spot. I feel no resistance or impact and the ball shoots off like a rocket, landing smack dab in the middle of the fairway. And with that one shot, all my anxiety and frustration just goes away. It’s redeeming!