“Slow Rise” (Pointage en Bac) Baguettes

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Dough Yield: About

    39

    baguettes at 14 oz each

Appears in

Bread

By Jeffrey Hamelman

Published 2004

  • About

The Slow Rise (Pointage En Bac) Method of making baguettes represents an effective and brilliant technique developed by French bakers in the second half of the twentieth century. Initially the method was conceived as a means of retarding shaped baguettes (this is known as pousse lente) and baking them hours later. It’s easy to imagine how this technique could be very beneficial to the baker if the only concern were production efficiency. There are, however, important considerations with retarding shaped baguettes, such as their tendency to flatten unless dough additives are included in the dough (such as ascorbic acid), less alacrity to the cuts, and the presence of bubbles on the surface of the baked loaves. A cousin to this method is the bulk retarding of the baguette dough itself, as opposed to the shaped loaves. In this case, one effective technique is as follows: Lightly mixed dough is folded 3 times over the course of an hour, similar to the method used in the Baguettes de Tradition. From this point on, the methods diverge. The Slow Rise dough is divided into units large enough to make 20 or so baguettes, then put into buckets and placed in a 46° to 50°F cooler for 15 to 18 hours. That temperature is warm enough so that enzymatic activity is sufficiently energetic in the dough, and warm enough for slight yeast activity to enhance things. Further, the temperature is a full 8° to 12°F warmer than typical refrigerator temperature, so once removed, the dough “wakes up” fairly quickly (the method can also be used with the dough kept at refrigerator temperatures, but it should warm to about 50°F before dividing). Using this technique, bakers are able to process baguettes over the course of several hours, and consumers have the happy benefit of buying bread at its peak eating quality at most any time of the day. Ever-enjoyable conversations with James MacGuire have given me a more detailed and complete understanding of this technique—thanks James!

U.S. Metric Home Baker’s %
Bread Flour 20 lb 10 kg 2 lb ( cups) 100%
Water 14 lb 7 kg 1 lb, 6.4 oz ( cups) 70%
Salt .4 lb .2 kg .6 oz (1 T) 2%
Yeast .15 lb, fresh .075 kg, fresh .1 oz, instant dry (1 tsp) .75%
Total Yield 34.55 lb 17.275 kg 3 lb, 7.1 oz 172.75 %

Method

  1. MIXING: Place all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Mix for 700 to 800 revolutions of the dough hook, on first speed only. The dough will be underdeveloped at this point. Leave the dough in the mixing bowl. Desired dough temperature: 75°F in winter; 72°F in summer.
  2. BULK FERMENTATION: 1 hour.
  3. FOLDING: Fold the dough 3 times, at 20-minute intervals, by turning on the mixer for several seconds. Once the third fold is performed, the dough will be supple and reasonably strong.
  4. DIVIDING: Depending upon the number of baguettes required, divide the dough into the appropriate weight and place into buckets. For instance, to process 20 baguettes per bucket, dough weight is 17.5 pounds for 14-ounce baguettes. Cover the buckets and place into a 50°F cooler. They can remain at this temperature for up to 18 hours.
  5. SHAPING: Remove the buckets from the cooler and divide into 12- to 14-ounce pieces. Preshape, and when relaxed, shape to baguettes. Place with seams up on lightly floured couche linen. Cover to prevent the formation of a crust.
  6. FINAL FERMENTATION: 1½ to 2 hours at 75°F.
  7. BAKING: With normal steam, 460°F. Bake this bread until it achieves a full rich crust color. A full bake is recommended to ensure a crisp crust.