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I've been making baguettes using the "stretch & fold" method instead of kneading. The resulting baguettes have great taste & texture, but the surface is covered with coarse, unsightly ropes of gluten, as below:

gluten_strands_1

gluten_strands_2

Is there a way to get the benefits of the stretch & fold method (texture; open crumb) without the ugly appearance?

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  • any pics, not so close, of pre-bake? Could it be a shaping issue?
    – moscafj
    Jan 17 at 16:09
  • @moscafj Could be, but no photos of that stage. I was going to try another batch today into tomorrow (I start with an overnight poolish), so I can take some photos then and update.
    – crmdgn
    Jan 17 at 16:43
  • Looks like burn scars. Yum! Jan 18 at 5:05
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Regardless of the kneading method you use your loaves need to have a taut skin on top after shaping or they will look ragged. Another consequence of a ragged top is that it doesn't trap the expanding gasses as well and might not rise as high.

Boules are easier as you can pull all the dough to the underside in a circle to stretch the top. Baguettes are trickier.

One method is to push a finger into the underside of the baguette while stretching the top surface around it and then working down the length of the loaf.
This is a good description of this method:
https://www.theperfectloaf.com/guides/shaping-baguettes/

Another method is to pull the loaf along the table with the tips of the fingers on the edge of the loaf to let the friction with the table stretch the top of the loaf.

Don't forget to score the proofed loaves of that nice top will tear in the oven.

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  • I'm having trouble visualizing that... So anchor with one hand and pull with the other?
    – crmdgn
    Jan 18 at 21:15
  • @crmdgn- I'm having trouble atm finding pictures of the second method. It has to be done on a very lightly floured surface so the dough has friction. The fingertips of both hands are placed on one side of the loaf and it is gently dragged to use the friction with the tabletop. I have only seen this method described a couple times and I'm not finding it right now. The first method is what I do and it seems much more common. Jan 19 at 18:18

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