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Sourdough Baguettes w/Chipotle Chile

March 6, 2016

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If I happened to be in Paris during the city’s baguette competition, I’d make sure to go and see all the excitement and commotion.  Or is it more of a laid back affair? There are probably hundreds of entries,  can anyone really get worked up over thinking they have the best chance to win? There are strict rules to follow if you’re competing in the “Grand Prix de la Baquette de la Ville de Paris”.  Your baguette must be 55-65 centimeters long and 250-300 grams in weight.   It’s judged on appearance, cooking, texture, smell,  and taste.  The crust should be crisp, while the crumb should be elastic with irregularly sized and unevenly spaced holes.   Dark crusts and 5 slashes are the norm. It must be made with only flour,  water,  yeast,  and salt.  I make French style baguettes as often as I can at my restaurant job to serve crostinis, bruschetta, special sandwiches or whatever other excuse I can come up with to make them. It’s a type of bread I have to make on a semi-regular basis just to stay in practice.  Proper shaping is kind of a tricky thing.  It took me more than a few tries and fails before I started to get some kind of handle on it.  Sooner or later I will post a recipe because it is one of my favorite breads to make.  My baguette today is world’s away from the French type.  For one, it’s leavened with sourdough.  Then,  besides bread flour,  it has ground chipotle chile, some whole wheat flour,  a bit of rye flour, and agave syrup in it’s ingredients.  “Baguette”,  which means “wand” or “baton” refers only to the shape of this bread, not the texture, flavor, size etc.  I wanted a flavored bread that could sub(really, no pun intended) for the telera or bolillos, the traditional  white flour rolls used for making tortas, the iconic Mexican sandwiches.  I’ve made  chipotle flavored sourdough loaves before,  but sliced bread doesn’t work very well for making tortas.  A baguette, a flavorful spicy one at that,  however,  is a good stand-in.

The main challenge I encountered along the way was managing this very wet and sticky dough.  Lightly flouring my work surface and sometimes the dough itself was very helpful.  After dividing the dough and letting the pieces rest for 1/2 hour,  I formed them into rectangles 3/4 to 1 inch thick (about 2 centimeters).   I folded them up as if folding a letter then shaped them into a “batard” form.  I then rolled them into “batons” by rocking them back and forth and gently pulling the ends as well to get them to the right width and length.  I made them as long as my baking stone allowed.  Of course they had to proof in a couche.

I didn’t want to have a fully developed sourdough bread flavor and texture.  I doubled the usual amount of levain I usually use and cut back on the amount of flour.   I have noticed that the crumb comes out lighter and softer when I make those adjustmenst, 2 qualities I was looking for in the bread.

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Levain:

15 grams sourdough starter refreshed 8 hours before (1 Tablespoon)

200 grams water at 78 degrees F.

200 grams bread flour

Final Dough:

All the levain

500 grams water 80 degrees F.

45 grams agave syrup

600 grams bread flour

150 grams whole wheat flour

50 grams rye flour

2 Tablespoons ground chipotle chile

20 grams salt plus 50 grams water

 

  1. I made the levain the night before baking. It was ready in about 8 hours.
  2. The next morning I dissolved the levain and agave syrup into the 500 grams water.
  3. I stirred together the 3 flours and ground chipotle pepper and mixed them into the levain water mixture, making sure everything was well moistened.
  4. I let the dough autolyze for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. I mixed the salt into the 50 grams water and then squeezed it into the dough, making sure it was evenly dispersed.
  6. Bulk fermentation lasted 3 1/2 hours.
  7. I shaped them as I described above for a proof of 4 1/2 hours.
  8. I scored them and baked 3 at a time in a 475 degree oven for about 15 minutes per batch. After 7 to 8 minutes I lowered the temperature to 430 degrees. During the first 7 or 8 minutes I misted the oven 3 times with water.
  9. After they were done, I let them cool on a rack.
There is no way around using a couche.

There is no way around using a couche.

The result was a very flavorful baguette. It doesn’t have the crackling crust that a true baguette has, but it is crusty and tasty.  The crumb developed nice holes,  good for absorbing whatever you may want to spread on. In my case, I was looking toward slathering refried beans for making tortas.  The agave syrup added just a touch of sweetness to compliment the smoky spiciness of the ground chipotle.  I guess I must mention that I lightly roasted several dry chipotle peppers in the oven, let them cool, and ground them in a spice grinder. Two tablespoons gave the baguettes moderate heat only.  I could just as well have added more.
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13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2016 10:15 pm

    Very nice post, love the writing and the pics!

  2. March 7, 2016 2:17 am

    Gorgeous baguettes Gerard!!

  3. March 8, 2016 6:44 am

    They look wonderful, I reckon you could win some competitions with these!! My baguettes tend to come out quite chunky, I need to get better at the shaping..

    • March 9, 2016 2:38 am

      Seeing how they would shape and waiting to see how much oven spring they had were probably the two most dramatic moments in these baguettes. You can’t always predict. Whoever said baking is dull doesn’t know what they’re talking about! Thanks Elaine!

      • March 9, 2016 6:43 am

        I agree!!! I’m not even interested in eating what I bake, I just enjoy the process and the anticipation!!

    • March 9, 2016 10:24 pm

      True, and if the bread comes out as I had imagined it would, it’s a bonus.

  4. March 8, 2016 2:21 pm

    You bake like a pro! Lovely photos! 🍓

  5. March 17, 2016 4:52 pm

    These are beauties Gerard! I made yeast corn muffins yesterday and put chopped jalapeno in them. I wish I had put more in. They were great with a chili I made which included coco powder and chilies in adobo sauce. They gave the chili a great depth of flavor and made the ground turkey I used taste like beef! I had the muffins for breakfast this morning and they just didn’t do anything for me. This is why I am not a big fan of muffins! My favorite breads are the baguette, ciabatta rolls, and rye bread. I’ve bought multigrain baguettes but I just don’t like them even though I know they are better for me. I love to try new bread recipes. I’d love to try a bolillo. Do you have a recipe for it? So many recipes, so little time! Have a great day!

    • March 22, 2016 9:56 pm

      Hi Marcella, I know cocoa and dried chiles go well together, some even use them for making sweet desserts! I can go for ciabatta rolls, baguettes, and rye bread anytime. But you’re right, it’s hard to find a good multi-grain version of some traditional white rolls. Bolillos and teleras have been on my list for posting for a while. I’ve made a few teleras and I find the homemade versions taste so much better than store bought ones. Those you find in stores just don’t taste natural. I’d much rather make a taco. I can’t remember the last time I made bolillos, I haven’t made very many. They are much like a French bread loaf only smaller for individual size sandwiches. We grew up eating those and more often the French bread loaf, or “pan frances”, regularly at home. We would usually make garlic bread out of it. Yes, so many breads, so little time!

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