Thursday, 24 January 2013

Post Exam Baking - Homemade Baguette and Croissants

Just had my exam two days ago and I've been dying to bake. I decided to go with the more time consuming bakes such as baguettes and croissants because trust me we hardly get so many days off in a row in medical school. I chose to make baguettes because I've been experimenting with it a few times over the last few months but I just couldn't quite get it right. They all tasted very nice but I wanted to get the ideal airy crumb texture with a crust that isn't too chewy. I decided to go with a lower hydration recipe by Hamelman this time. I think I've been way too ambitious to tackle the highest hydration dough recipe previously considering I'm a total novice to baking bread. As usual I picked the notoriously difficult one to start with, i.e; baguettes, but that's because it's my favourite bread of all.

They turned out well this time and the crumb texture in my opinion was the best I could achieve given I have no access to professional ovens.

The oven spring was moderate. I did everything I could, I sprayed the baguette prior to baking, I had a pizza stone that I heated in the oven for an hour and I poured a jug of boiling water into a preheated baking tin. All to create the all so important steam for a good oven spring and a good crust. Unfortunately my student flat oven could only reach a certain maximum temperature unlike professional ovens and it loses heat in an instant whenever the door is opened. (plus all those steam creating measures took time to perform..)

What about the crumb.

Not bad if I may say so. Fairly airy and although I wish the holes were slightly larger I really couldn't complain more. It was soft yet elastic and the crumb was crusty with just a tiny bit chewiness. Just the way I like it. :)

I had the leftover baguette for lunch this afternoon with some sautéed corned beef with onions. Forgive me for praising my own creation but it was delicious. The flavour of home made baguettes is so much nicer than the supermarket ones probably due to the much longer overnight fermentation process that commercial supermarket bakeries can't afford? Anyhow I'm super pleased with how these turned out. They seem to keep quite well too. So far they've done well after a day and the crust was still great after a quick warm up in a hot oven. I just gently sprayed some water on the crumb side prior to re-heating it.

Wait this is not all. I made croissants too! I must say I was slightly disappointed with how some of them turned out. I have no idea why some turned out better than the others, perhaps it's due to me stretching some of them during shaping? Or could it be due to under-proofing? They weren't as puffy as I'd liked but being impatient as always I ignored my gut instinct.

Here's a picture of the good one:

Look how beautiful that honeycomb structure is. :D Pardon my awkward hand position. I had to hold these in one hand and take the picture with the camera in my other hand without dropping either one of them.

Do you see the contrast between the croissant at the top and the bottom? The latter appeared to have risen less and the crumb structure was not as open as the top croissant.

Picture taken pre-baking. Normally a well proofed croissant should be quite jiggly when the shake the pan and the layers within each 'step' should start to split from each other. This wasn't the case with some of my croissants today. I guess I should've waited after all.

So that's all so far for my post-exam baking session. I've made two batches of croissant dough in one go and so far I've only used one of them. I intend to turn the other one into pains aux raisins but I'm afraid it'll have to wait till tomorrow because I don't have any sultanas with me at the mo. I just hope it won't proof too much overnight in the fridge and weaken the gluten structure... I'd hate to see it ruined because I DID laminate it with the President brand French butter which cost more than Lurpark.

That's it for the time being. Somehow I feel so guilty for baking instead of revising in the middle of the week despite the fact that I'm meant to be chilling out post-exam.




  1. I missed this update! ^^' But I hope your exams went well :3

    The baguettes looks particularly glorious; that aerated, spongy texture looks incredible! What will you be baking next? :)

    1. Cheers my friend! My exams went OK, the results will be out in about a week's time, fingers crossed. Next up would be a coffee and walnut cake, I've got a sudden craving for it. And maybe some naan bread for my curry. Can't wait!

    2. Ooh good, I'm sure you'll have done excellent! :3 I haven't had exams in a while {my course is assignment based} but waiting for results is alllllways tedious.

      It's so funny you say that because I've been looking for a coffee and walnut cake too! Personally I love coffee as a flavour, but I've found that a lot of my friends aren't keen on the taste in cakes and such, so I've been putting it off...however one of those friends had some cake other other day which coffee in it and really liked it...since she didn't pick up on the coffee, I've decided now is the time to test their tastebuds :D I was thinking a moist, buttery sponge with the soft bite of walnut pieces for this combo XD

      But first I really want to try baking a katsura/chiffon/hokkaido sponge where it's incredibly light, much to bake...

  2. Your Croissants are outstanding! The baguettes are pretty good too.

    1. Cheers Janice! For me the best part of croissant making is the moment I slice into it revealing the honeycomb structure on the inside. It never fails putting a smile on my face. :)

  3. Your baguettes remind me of the one we had in Cote Brasseries, London. Can't remember how you croissants taste like since it was ages ago. But I have at least made 20 time of croissants, I think it is much easier compare with baking cakes.


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