Today was baguette day, and it’s usually my favorite day because I love making baguettes. But it was also a bit of a weird day. I didn’t feel quite on it today, and I was not at all happy with my baguette dough. I felt it was way too wet and the bulk fermentation went way too fast which in turn made me cut my pre-shape and final proofing short – like to 10 minutes each!
Then on top of that, I was really struggling with shaping! The dough being wet, I felt it was fighting me and by the time I finished shaping my second loaf, I said out loud, “Dammit! I can do better than this!” I’m normally really good with shaping, but today, I felt as if I had two clubbed hands!
Then finally, when I transferred the loaves to my loading board, even though they seemed puffed up on the couche, they immediately collapsed on the board! At that point, I just shook my head, scored the loaves, then popped them into the oven, accepting my fate that I’d be baking baguettes that were going to be DOA. But when I went to remove my steam container and parchment paper, they had sprung up in the oven! Talk about an F me moment!
As you can see from the pictures above, the loaves turned out great! They have nice oven spring and a reasonably open crumb. It’s certainly not my best work, but it’s far from being the total fail that I thought it was going to be. ‘Scuse my language, but Fuckin’-A!
So as the title of this article says, things sometimes just work out. I think what saved my loaves was the fact that I cut off the final proofing. I normally do a 15 minute intermediate (after pre-shape) and a 30 minute final proof. But as I mentioned above, I cut them off to about 10 minutes each. I’ve done baguettes enough where I’ve developed a bit of an instinct as to when to move on to the next step based on what I’m seeing and feeling. And this was definitely one of those cases where I followed my instinct and went off script completely.
So yeah, things sometimes do work out, but the lesson for me here is to trust what I’m seeing and feeling and not be overly canonical and parochial about the process. Sometimes, you have no choice but to go completely off script!