Update Mar 25
Thanks to all who stopped by or received in some way the demi baguettes this week. I gave away about 15 in a couple days. The ratio of flour to water (1.67 w/w) so far is the dominating factor in the volume and taste. I also varied the shaping a bit this morning, 130 g (precooked weight, ca. 110 g final) was a nice size for a petit dejeuner. I'll probably work on the final proof next, since the oven spring was too much. I was baking in the morning of a busy day and rushed it a little. Stay tuned for more giveaways...
My breads of the past months have, well - sucked. Not real bad, just not good. I just got into a slump of sorts that I couldn't figure out. Based on my previous manic outburst, I climbed out of the rut with a new (or rediscovered old) ratio. I'm up and running again and the volume is perfect. Now, the crust is sometimes soft, sometimes perfect. For a baguette, the perfect crust is razor thin, sharp and crackles as it leaves the oven.
At 20 liters per tablespoon of water, steam is an abundant commodity, even for a hack no matter what awkward technique one uses. The real challenge for the home baker without an oven equipped for steam injection and evacuation is to remove the steam sometime into the baking cycle. Therein lies the much bigger challenge for the home oven. Ovens vary and this may be the source of reproducibility problems from person to person, recipe to recipe, etc. The breads need to steam a bit and then bake in a dry environment. I'm not going to go into to too much detail on this. All I'm saying is that I'm in experiment mode and I'm baking faster than we can eat.
So, I'm introducing the first in an occasional series: I bake early in the morning and you get to taste my experiments. Tomorrow morning about 6, the dough will have risen overnight and I'll produce, by 7 am, some demi baguettes. About 100-110 g with or without a good crust. Don't worry, they'll taste good even if the crust isn't right. DM me on Twitter and I'll reserve one for you and give you the address. Just stop by at 7 and I'll toss one in your car. For tomorrow, I should have about 8-10 available. With your mini, you get a little pat of butter and jam. Enjoy - and thanks for helping me not waste food and get some experimentation in. I love you guys.
Update Mar 25