Sourdough baguettes

Sourdough Baguettes

Look at the picture above. What is wrong with the three sourdough baguettes you see? Not much, some of you will probably think. And I agree. There is nothing wrong with them. They have a nice golden brown crunchy crust, and they tasted just great.


But if you are an experienced baker you may point out that there is not much oven spring to theses baguettes. And that is the problem.

Let’ face it. Oven spring adds an aesthetic touch that is hard to ignore. Compare my baguettes with these ones.

Baguettespixabay

We both know which ones you had chosen, right?
But what happened to my baguettes? I think they fell victim of the gruesome sickness called over-proofing, caused by a sloppy baker (aka me).
But I was not so sloppy this time. I made the finger poke test several times. Still, I did not get the result I wanted. Most of you probably know what the finger poke test is, but for those who don’t, here’s a brief description.
You make a little imprint on the top of the loaf by pressing your finger on it.

If the imprint springs back and fills up quickly, the loaf is probably under-proofed.
If the imprint springs back partly, the loaf is ready to be baked.
But If the imprint doesn’t recover at all, you probably have an over-proofed loaf.

The imprint on my sourdough baguettes bounced back halfways, indicating that the timing for putting them into the oven was perfect. I won’t claim that the test failed me completely. There was some oven spring. But not enough.

This problem has occurred before, especially when I’m trying to bake sourdough baguettes. I realized that I had got a mission. The mission to crack the code about baking baguettes (with lots of oven spring).

I knew I couldn’t blame my starter this time. My starter can be an obnoxious creature that doesn’t want to cooperate far too often. But this time it had been extremely bubbly and lively. It was also something I noticed during the bulk fermentation as the dough was rising very quickly. So I could only assume that I had over-proofed a little during the final rise.
But believing is not enough. I wanted to know.

Starter

I remembered that I used to use the double size test before I learned about the finger poke test. You try to measure the size of the loaf with your eyes. When it has doubled in size, it’s time to put it in the oven. This method is very unreliable as it’s very hard to tell when a loaf has doubled in size if you let it ferment in a banneton. It’s easier if you have it in a bread pan, but that’s not an option if you want to bake baguettes.

But there is another way. You can place a small piece of dough in a straight glass. If you mark the initial level of the dough with a rubber band, it’s easy to measure when it has doubled in size. This test is far more reliable because the dough can only expand in one direction and that is upwards.

I decided to use both tests for my next trial.

SECOND BAKING SESSION

My second attempt didn’t start that well. From being very lively and active, my starter returned to a grumpy, sleepy behavior. Everything looked good the day before when I mixed the poolish. But I also used some amount of the starter to a batch of sourdough breakfast rolls that we were going to eat for breakfast the next morning. Obviously, my starter thought that was enough. It was not in a mood for any more baking adventures, and all I could see was some tiny bubbles on the surface. But after feeding it and placing it warm, it was in a better mood again after an hour or two.

I followed the same procedure as last time except that I placed a small piece of dough in a high straight glass for both the bulk fermentation and the final rise. I marked the starting level with a rubber band and placed it next to the main dough.

The poolish had already developed a lot of taste and sourness, so I didn’t want long fermentation times. This is, of course, a matter of taste. Personally, I don’t want my sourdough baguettes to be too sour. So I let the dough and formed loaf ferment in a warm environment, about 77ºF /25ºC. Total fermentation time was 4.5 hour. 3 hours for the bulk fermentation and 1.5 hours for the final rise. After that, both the finger poke test and the dough-in-glass-test indicated that it was time to place the baguette loaves in the oven. Besides, I want to point out that I agree with all that thinks that dough-in-glass-test is a ridiculous word. Feel free to come up with a better suggestion.

Poolish

Bulk fermentation

 

I studied the baguettes through the window in the oven door. But after a few minutes, I realized that I wouldn’t get that profound, nice oven spring I sought for this time either. I have to admit that I was disappointed. Everything looked so good when I shuffled the loaves into the oven. But I have to realize that I haven’t cracked the Baguette code yet. When it comes to oven spring, that will say. Because what these Baguettes lacked in oven spring they made up for in taste. They turned out to be exactly how I want my sourdough baguettes. A soft an airy crumb with lots of taste and a hint of sourness. The crust was a dream of cracker-like crunchiness. So I suppose I should be satisfied after all.

 

If I could only get a little better oven spring.

Next time, maybe.

Sourdough Baguettes

Print Recipe
Sourdough baguettes
Sourdough baguettes with a soft an airy crumb and cracker-like crunchy crust. A lot of taste with a hint of sourness makes these baguettes on of my most baked bread.
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Servings
Ingredients
Poolish
Baguette
Instructions
Poolish
  1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Make sure that all flour is hydrated. Cover the dough with cling film and let it ferment for 10-12 hours.
Baguette
  1. Mix all ingredients including the poolish, but except the salt in a dough mixer until the dough is elastic. Use windowpane test. Add the salt the last minutes.
  2. If you prefer to knead by hand you can use a stretch and fold technique. You will find a link to a description of the technique in the recipe notes. There's also a link to a video. Start by letting the mixed dough autolyze for an hour, and then run a stretch and fold session every half hour, 3-4 times in total. Add the salt during the first stretch and fold session.
  3. Let the dough ferment until doubled in size. Use the dough-in-the-glass test described above.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and dump out the dough. Divide it into three pieces with your bench knife. Flatten the dough gently with your hands. Fold one side against the other and repeat with the other. Form the dough to a baguette by rolling it gently against the work surface. There's a link to an excellent video showing how to form a baguette in the recipe notes.
  5. Preheat your oven to 480ºF / 250ºC with two oven plates. One to bake the bread on and one just below.
  6. Let the baguette loaves rise until doubled in size according to the dough-in-glass-test, in combination with the finger poke test.
  7. Score each loaf 3 or 4 times and place them in the oven. Pour some water on the plate below and bake each loaf in 15-25 minutes, or until the loaves has got a nice, golden brown color.
  8. Let the baguettes cool on wire racks.
Recipe Notes

For those who prefer to use a stretch and fold technique instead of running the dough into a dough mixer, you may find this video helpful. You can also look at one of my previous recipes.

This video shows how to form a baguette loaf. It also shows how to use a kitchen towel for the final rise if you don't have a baguette pan.

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Reduce-food-waste Quiche with anything

reduce food waste Quiche with anything

Food waste. It has been a while since I have ranted about this issue. So it’s time to write a little about it, right? It needs to be written about because the amount of food we are wasting in the western world is horrible.

Food waste infographic

Those figures are just freaking bizarre. We must all do something about it. Me too, because I’m far from perfect. Therefore I’m constantly looking for new strategies to reduce the amount of food that slides down into the waste bin. One thing I use to do every week is to make an inventory in my fridge. I’m looking for food that starts approaching its expiration date and trying to compose a meal of it.
It’s good for two reasons.

  • I find food in time before it becomes inedible.
  • I find food that already is inedible.

The second reason is almost as important as the first. It’s distressing to find fuzzy stuff in the refrigerator unless it is a blue cheese.

In last weeks inventory, I found a piece of sweet potato, some feta cheese, a jar half filled with olives, some scallions, and one tomato.
The tomato was a bit soft and the sweet potato looked somewhat tired, but I decided to use it anyway. The rest of the food items were not in such a critical state, but they wouldn’t stay fresh for so much longer. I paid special attention to the feta cheese, but finally, I decided that it was OK.

sweet potato and scallion

There is always milk, eggs, butter, parmesan cheese, and flour in my fridge and pantry, and I grow my own herbs, so I have a surplus of thyme, rosemary, and sage.

milk,butter,flour

 

I had all the ingredients for a one portion Quiche.

A Quiche is easy to make. The hardest part is the dough. But even that is easy if you have a stand mixer. But it doesn’t take that much longer to do it in a bowl by hand. If you put the butter in the freezer, you can grate it instead of cutting it into small cubes. It goes faster, and it will make the dough mixing a bit easier.

Pie crust

 

rolled pie crust

 

crust in pie dish

This Quiche is quite small, so it doesn’t need a long time in the oven. Therefore I decided to fry the sweet potato for a few minutes. Apart from that, I followed a “standard” Quiche recipe. I found a small pie dish that I could use. Next time I will try to place the pie crust in a preheated skillet. I think it should work.

quiche unbaked

So I ended up with a creamy Quiche with salty and slightly tangy notes from the olives and feta cheese. I’m a sucker for thyme and sage, so I used plenty of it. Feel free to use whatever herbs you like or have available.
This is a perfect lunch. Almost for free. A few more days and some of the food items I used would have started to transform into something nasty. They would have been ready for the waste bin. This is perhaps not a giant step against a better world. But it’s the little things that make a difference. Like the fact that I forgot to add the damn tomato.

 

Reduce food waste Quiche

 

Print Recipe
Reduce-food-waste-Quiche with sweet potato and feta cheese
Food waste is bad, I think we can all agree on that. A pleasant way to reduce your food waste is to make a Quiche. A Quiche can be varied endlessly with whatever you can find in your refrigerator. I'm thinking about all those bits and pieces that will soon transform into something fuzzy, mean, and totally inedible.
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tart dough
Filling
Servings
people
Ingredients
Tart dough
Filling
Instructions
  1. Mix flour butter and salt in a large bowl to a crumbly dough. Add water and knead until dough comes together. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to350ºF /180ºC.
  3. Roll the dough between two sheets of cling film to a thickness of 1/8 inch / 3 mm.
  4. Fit the dough into a small pie dish or whatever suitable heat resistant dish you can find. A small skillet will probably work fine.
  5. If you are planning to add root vegetables like sweet potatoes It can be a good idea to saute them for a minute or two before adding them to the filling.
  6. Beat together milk, egg, mustard, and salt in a bowl.
  7. Place all your fillings in the unbaked tart shell and pour the milk and egg mixture over everything. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese if you have. Any cheese will do.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the filling is just set.
Recipe Notes

I won't enter all the ingredients for the filling. The whole idea of this recipe is that you should use your imagination and what you can find in your own refrigerator. If you still want to do the same Quiche as I did, you can find the ingredients I used in the blog text above. But I will not give you the amounts because I don't remember that myself. 😉

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