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I'm a professional private cook in Rio de Janeiro. I also teach here. Fresh bread is a major part of my teaching regimen and I have successfully taught my students several different types of breads, everything from focaccia to Italian bread for bread bowl soups.

I recently had an opportunity to do some baguettes for a friend's French cafe and I've been working on the system. I use an 80% hydration recipe that involves many stretch and fold sessions with 45 minutes in between. Though I follow the instructions, I'm having issues with the dough being so wet at the end that it's impossible to shape correctly. It's so loose and visibly wet that it practically runs off the pan.

When I form the baguettes in the couche, they puff up a bit, but when I remove them and attempt to transfer to my baking stone, they just turn into flat bread and don't recover. The taste is great, but you can see from the slashes from the lame, that something isn't right. Plenty of bubbles and when I'm working it, it expands quite a bit during rest periods. But it's just too slack.

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I'm using a typical type 1 bread flour. Here in Rio the weather is cool and humidity is very low right now. What is causing this?

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Different flours (ie different brands and strains) have different rates of absorption. If I use American bread recipes, I always have to use far more flour than the recipe calls for in order to achieve the described consistency. If your dough is too wet and is not behaving as the recipe describes - add more flour, or use less water.

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I have been practicing making baguette for about 4 years now. Much experimentation led me to use a 78% recipe which does everything I want. My problem is not with a "too-wet" loaf but rather a tendency to flatten out during baking. I think it is when I make it on a rainy day but you don't have a high humidity so we both have that problem.

Reduce your hydration!

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