Baking Demi-baguettes in the Challenger Bread Pan

Ever since I got my Challenger Bread Pan and watched Artisan Bryan’s video where he bakes demi-baguettes in it; I wanted to find and bake a simple baguette recipe that would help me learn how to both make use of the bread pan’s dimensions and master the baguette shaping process. Furthermore, in addition to having an ideal baking vessel, I made sure to wait until I had the tools that would make the baguette preparation process go as smoothly as possible before taking on this baking challenge. The tools came in the form of a transfer peel and baker’s couche from St Germain Bakery.

Test 1: Dialing in the recipe proportions

Choosing a simple baguette recipe to follow was quite easy as I looked over my browser’s bookmarked webpages and found The Perfect Loaf’s (Maurizio) “Sourdough Baguettes” recipe already there. My next step was to decide how long I would make the baguettes and after a brief glance at the Challenger Breadware website I decided to aim to make them 12 inches long i.e. the full length of the bottom portion of the bread pan. Lastly, after chosing the flours that I’d be using and adapting the proportions of Maurizio’s recipe to account for 2 inches less per baguette (for the 6 baguette batch) it was time to start preparing my dough. Click here for my adapted formula. Note: Base flour = Central Millng’s malted T85 flour and Beehive All-Purpose flour AND High Gluten flour = Janie’s Mill’s High-Protein flour.

Key components of Maurizio’s recipe: A) The levain ratio is 1:1:1 in order to keep the final acidity low. B) Aiming for a target final dough temperature of 79F/26C (prior to its cold bulk fermentation), speeds up the levain and initial warm bulk fermentation process. C) The overnight cold bulk fermentation results in added complexity and ends with visible signs of fermentation, but no significant rising of the dough. D) I’d recommend checking out his Kamut demi-baguette post (link below) for pictures of his recommended shaping process E) Keep your tray of proofed baguettes in the refrigerator while each subsequent set of 2 baguettes is baking. F) Due to these baguettes being smaller than Maurizio’s original recipe, I’d recommend checking on your baguettes towards the end of the uncovered portion of their baking in order to prevent them from getting too dark.

Test Results: For my first attempt at baking sourdough baguettes this batch came out quite good. Despite some proofing and shaping issues, their crumb was open, crust crispy, and flavor mild yet delicious at the same time. In terms of lessons specific to the Challenger bread pan, their 12 inch length was definitely too long. In turn, while planning for my next batch (Test 2), I used the ruler on my transfer peel to measure the bread pan’s inner dimensions and came to the conclusion that 10.5-11 inches would be a more appropriate baguette length.

Test 2 – All dialed in!

While I could have followed the same recipe for this batch, I decided to follow Maurizio’s Kamut demi-baguette recipe instead. However, I didn’t have any kamut flour on hand and therefore I substituted it with einkorn flour. In terms of adapting the recipe to the Challenger bread pan, I decided to keep the final dough weight the same as the previous batch, but made sure to shape them to 1-1.5 inches shorter (10.5-11 inches instead of 12). Click here for my adapted formula. Note: ABC Plus flour = Central Milling’s Artisan Baker’s Craft Plus flour.

Key components of Maurizio’s recipe: A) The levain ratio for this recipe is 1:2:1 i.e. “a stiff preferment to bring more control to the fermentation in this dough and add additional strength.” B) Put the levain in warm area (78-80F/25.5-26.6C) so that it’ll double in size within 4 hours. I used my Brod & Taylor proofer. C) “At 78-82°F (25.5-27.7C) ambient temperature, this (warm) portion of bulk fermentation will go for 2 hours.” C) As with the previous recipe (see its article), the length of this recipe’s cold bulk fermentation is flexible i.e. you can proceed with the rest of the process when it’s most convenient for you. D) Follow Maurizio’s shaping steps carefully in order to make the shaping process as simple and smooth as possible. E) Keep both ends of the couche supported at all times in order to prevent the baguettes that are not in the process of being baked from spreading out.

Test Results: While my baguette scoring skills need work, scoring a bit deeper after this batch’s first set of baguettes made a big difference in how much the remaining 4 rose during baking. With the length dialed in, the overall appearance of this batch was much more consistent (inside and out). In terms of flavor, the einkorn flour added a mild yet pleasant sweetness to the crust and crumb that was definitely distinct enough to differentiate from the flavor profile of the previous batch. Lastly, one factor that may be unique to my refrigerator, but I still feel is worth noting is the following. When I took both batches out to start the shaping and proofing processes there was some water built up on one edge of the mixing bowl. In fact, when dividing this batch I somehow ended up with 100-120 less grams of dough than expected. However, this may have been due to my placing the dough on the top shelf where it was colder than the bottom shelf i.e. where I put stored the first batch during its cold bulk fermentation.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Shape the baguettes to 10.5-11 inches (4.1 – 4.33cm) and between 275 and 325g in weight.
  2. The Challenger Bread Pan allows you to start baking demi-baguettes covered like you would for your other sourdough loaves rather than setting up a steam pan.
  3. Feel free to scale this recipe up or down. While I made six baguettes per batch, you can easily make less in order to shorten how much time you spend baking.
  4. Score your baguettes carefully (deep enough and down the center) to make sure that they rise enough during baking. I transferred them onto an awaiting piece of parchment paper that I had placed on top of a plastic (OXO) cutting board, scored them, and then used the cutting board as a peel and carefully slid the baguettes into the bread pan.
  5. Keep an eye on the color of the baguettes during the uncovered portion of the baking process in order to prevent them from getting too dark. Inverting the bread pan lid and placing the bottom portion on top can prevent over-carmelized bottoms.

For more photos of both batches go to my Instagram page.

Happy Baking!

About Barry W

NJ (formerly NYC) based home brewer and fermented food enthusiast sharing his brewing, cooking, and baking adventures on thebrewedpalate.com.
This entry was posted in Sourdough Bread and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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