Friday, October 21, 2011

ciabatta baguettes (why not)

You guys are going to be totally disappointed in me this week, but you might understand all at once.

Here goes...

When I started making my baguettes this morning, I had not had my coffee yet. Well, there is one thing that you should know about me, and that is that NOTHING happens before coffee. The only thing that I am capable of is putting the kettle on to boil, and even grinding the beans requires some serious effort (I have actually scooped sucanat - my natural cane sugar - into the coffee mill instead of whole coffee beans and ground it, and on more than one occasion). Suffice it to say, pre-coffee, my brain is stuffed with cotton, so, attempting to accomplish math or measure upon waking is not the brightest idea I've ever had.

With that said, I began making the Tartine baguette this morning, and while Chad says that the dough should feel stiff compared to the country loaves, the dough was beyond stiff. It was extraordinarily dry, so dry that there was simply not enough water to hydrate a good portion of the dough at all. Mind you, all of this measuring and observing is taking place pre-coffee, so it is possible that I thought that I was adding the right amount of water (500g, which puts the Tartine baguette somewhere in the neighborhood of 64.3% hydration), but missed the mark by a landslide.

The story gets better (or worse)...

I proceeded to try my hand at some bakers math to try to rectify the problem, to no avail. I added a bit of water to the dough to hydrate it more, but because my brain was so foggy, I think I added hell o' more, really, and I kept getting confused. 'Did I just add 70 grams or 300 grams?'. Yeah. Hella o' confused. And of course I didn't write anything down (but then, how could I have? I had no idea that I was even making bread until my first sip), so poof, all figures, measurements and times are dispersed into the ether.

Just a quick note, baguettes are supposed to be anywhere from 60 - 70% hydration. Evidently, those in France maintain lower hydration because of the flour that they use, and artisan baguettes in America can be on the higher end because of qualities of our flour. Evidently our flour is parched in comparison. Of course, my baguettes have something like 1 million percent hydration, give or take a few grams.

Laugh (cry). Out. Loud.

In the very least, I wanted you to see that I actually did try my hand at baguettes this week. Just know that I will be back front and center the drawing board next Tuesday with my second attempt along with a proper formula and method. I promise to embark upon the next venture post coffee, to be sure.

When life hands you a lemon, brush it with olive oil and call it a ciabatta baguette :)

See you Tuesday! (ps, despite everything, they were really bleepin good!)

To the staff of life!


  1. What a great (and funny!) post. I look forward to next Tuesday's baguettes, but man, do these look good!

  2. I will be making baguettes this week also. Can't wait to hear part deux of the story. Reminds me of the time I purchased a gorgeous navy blue danish liter measuring cup, My daughter ,who was 9 at the time wanted to be the first to use it and decided to surprise me with a batch of brownies. That's right.....1 cup became 4and 1/2cup was really 2.It makes for a great story when the family gets together,and she was the first to use the new "cup".

  3. You story is great to me this can happen and, after a morning coffee.I look forward to next Tuesday's baguettes



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