Dragon Tail Baguettes (WBD/WFD)

go directly to the recipe

feed the hungrysummary: recipe for baguette with malt – based on Susan’s (Wild Yeast) recipe for “Baguettes with Poolish”; information about YeastSpotting, World Bread Day and World Food Day (click on images to see larger views and more photos)

Bookmarked Recipe; World Bread Day; World Food Day

baguettes A while back, Susan (Wild Yeast) posted a baguette recipe. Along with the recipe were tantalizing photos of her baguettes. Beautiful baguettes. Crusty. Golden. Perfectly scored.

And one of the baguettes looked like a string of beads.

I WANTED to make baguettes that looked like strings of beads!! I asked how it was done, and here is the reply:

It’s a baguette that is snipped as you would for en epi, with each section folded back on itself. Hard to explain without pictures.

– Susan, Wild Yeast

Armed with the handy words “en epi” I googled to find a video “La coupe en épi” at lepetitboulanger.com and got a glimmer of how it was done. But I also saw what was meant about “hard to explain without pictures”…. Being chicken-hearted, rather than plunge ahead recklessly, I decided to wait to see Susan’s pictures of “each section folded back on itself”.

And then, as is normal, I completely forgot about dragons’ tails. Until Susan posted her video. And once again, I neeeeeeeeeeeeeded to make dragons’ tails!

We’re pretty happy with the Rose Levy Beranbaum baguettes I’ve been making and initially, I was just going to use Susan’s shaping method with our baguette recipe.

And then I got nervous again. What if the dough was the wrong consistency?

So I decided to make Susan’s recipe and headed into the kitchen to put together the starter.

Day 1 evening: Intriguing!! The recipe calls for 0.1g yeast!! Susan handily translates that to “a pinch”. But I love weighing ingredients. Yes it’s true: measuring is my life. (What IS the name of that really terrible British murder mystery farce from sometime in the 1960s that had a character who was always saying “knitting is my life”?!)

I’d LOVE to be able to measure the yeast on my very own digital scale. But no. I can’t. I don’t have a scale that measures in fractions of grams. I can’t buy a scale that measures in fractions of grams. The Canadian government won’t let me.


Apparently, they’re protecting me from the hordes of evil people who would snap up the digital scales to sell illicit drugs. Thank you Canadian government for your kind concern for my welfare. Because of course I know that the inability to get digital scales that measure in fractions of grams will definitely stop people from selling drugs illegally. Yes indeed. No question about it.

But enough complaining… rather than measure with a scale, I made a guess and just threw in about 10 grains of yeast.

baguettes Day 2 morning: Bubbles!!! Whoa! I can’t believe how bubbly the starter is, with only a few grains of yeast! Cool.

And I started measuring the ingredients for the dough. Very very interesting!! Susan calls for 12.7 gm salt and has in brackets 2⅛ tsp of salt. I used our teaspoons to take the salt from the container and dumped it into the bowl on the scale. Only 7 gms! I added another teaspoon of salt and the scale measured 10 gms. I stopped there. A tablespoon of salt is probably enough for that much flour. But what a difference in volume!! Susan’s salt must be a much much finer grind than our salt!

I mixed the dough and left it for about 20 minutes. Then, without adding any flour to the board, I started kneading it. What fabulous dough. It’s firm but not too firm. Elastic but not too elastic.

I couldn’t get over that it didn’t really want to stick to the board as I kneaded. But of course, I used the dough scraper to make sure that all the kneaded dough went back into the rising bowl.

After an hour, I stretched and folded it. I still couldn’t get over what wonderful dough this was! If this isn’t a good enough reason to use a scale rather than cups to measure the ingredients, I don’t know what is!

based on Susan’s (Wild Yeast) recipe for Baguettes

makes three baguettes or two round loaves


  • 219 gm (219 ml) lukewarm water ¹
  • 10 grains active dry yeast
  • 140 gm (~1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 80 gm (~¾ cup) whole wheat flour

Actual Dough

  • 219 gm (219 ml) lukewarm water
  • 3 gm (¾ tsp) active dry yeast
  • All of starter from above
  • 425 gm (~3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 g (⅔ tsp) malt powder ²
  • 10 gm (3 tsp) seasalt (our salt is quite coarse; if your salt is fine, use 2 tsp)
  1. Starter Dough On the evening before making the bread: In a medium sized bowl, whisk the few grains of yeast into the lukewarm water (do the baby’s bottle test on your wrist) until the grains are dissolved. Add the flours and stir with a wooden spoon until the flours are encorporated. This mixture will be quite sloppy. Put a plate over the bowl to cover it and leave it on the counter top overnight.
  2. Actual Dough The next morning, the starter should be bubbling merrily. In a largish bowl, whisk the rest of the yeast into lukewarm water until the mixture looks creamy. Stir in all of the above starter dough.
  3. Add the flour, malt powder and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir until the dough pulls away from the bowl and the flour is pretty much encorporated. Cover and set aside to sit on the counter for about 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto an unfloured work surface.
  5. Wash and dry the bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  6. Without adding any extra flour, knead the dough until it is silky (about 10 minutes). Let your dough scraper (a spatula works) be your friend if the dough is sticking to the board. Keep scraping any dough that is on the board so the board is always clear.
  7. Put the dough in the clean mixing bowl. Cover and allow to rise in a no-draft area (warm room temperature) for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 minutes has passed, very lightly sprinkle the work surface with flour. Carefully turn the dough out. If necessary, gently spread the dough out (try not to disturb any bubbles). Using the dough scraper and still trying not to disturb any bubbles, fold the left side into the center, then the top into the center, then the right side, then the bottom. As you lift it into the bowl, fold it in half once more. Try to place it in the bowl smooth side up. Cover and allow to rise in a no-draft area (warm room temperature) for 20 minutes. Repeat this step three times in all. (This step is done at 20 minutes, 40 minutes, 60 minutes after the first kneading.) It’s usually not until the third time that the dough will look like the smooth soft pillow that is described in books. The amount of dusting flour used in those three maneuvres is not more than a couple of tablespoons and probably much less (sorry, I’ve never actually measured). After the final time, cover and allow to rise in a no-draft area (room temperature) until it has doubled.
  9. shaping: When the dough has doubled, you can shape the dough. To shape the baguettes, turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured board. Divide it in three even-ish pieces and shape ³ into baguettes.
  10. Place the bagettes on parchment paper that is folded accordion style to ensure the shaped breads don’t stick together. Proof, covered, for about an hour, or until the indentation left by a finger gently pressed into the dough springs back very slowly.
  11. Preparing the Oven About half an hour before baking the bread, put a rack with a baking stone on the second to the top shelf of the oven, making sure there are no racks above it. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  12. Just before baking, score 4 and spray the baguettes liberally with water.
  13. Baking Put the bread in the oven (you can leave it on the parchment paper). Immediately turn the oven down to 400F. Bake the baguettes for about 30 minutes until they are hollow sounding on the bottom. Turn them around once half-way through the baking to account for uneven heat in the oven.
  14. Remove the bread from oven and allow to cool on a well ventilated rack. Remember!!! The bread is still baking inside when it first comes out of the oven. 5


1. Water: Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated. Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature, (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!) Or you can use a thermometer. The temperature should be BELOW 120F because yeast begins to die when the temperature is higher than 120F.

2. Malt Powder: Susan’s recipe calls for “non-diastatic” malt powder. I have been unsuccessful in finding non-diastatic malt powder and just use regular old malt powder that we got at the health food store. This means that it will merely sweeten the bread, rather than help it to rise. But we love the resulting flavour with the addition of this probably diastatic (whatever that is) malt powder.

3. Shaping: It’s important to try to disturb the bubbles in the dough as little as possible. Here are two really great videos of baguette shaping techniques from Artisanal Bread Baking, June 2008: Shaping Baguettes, part 1; Shaping Baguettes, part 2. And this article from “A Year in Bread” should help as well: Shaping Techniques

4. Scoring: I confess that I’m still pretty rotten at scoring. I find my best scoring has been done with scissors. But David Snyder’s Bread Scoring Tutorial (The Fresh Loaf website) is an excellent resource. And Susan’s YouTube video of Dragon Tail Baguette Shaping is wonderful. I admit that my dragon tails aren’t quite as elegant as Susan’s but I’m still quite pleased!

5. But I want Warm Bread!!: If you wish to serve warm bread, reheat it after the loaf has cooled completely. To reheat UNsliced bread, turn the oven to 400F for 5 minutes or so. Turn the oven OFF. Put the bread directly on the rack in the hot oven for ten minutes.

baguette Day 2 evening: We couldn’t have been more pleased about these baguettes. The crumb was exactly as a baguette crumb should be: chewy but soft. And the flavour!! Mmmmmmmmmm….

Eventually, with practice, I’ll achieve the beaded quality that Susan did. But even these roughly shaped beads were absolutely stellar. Thank you, Susan! For both the scoring technique and the recipe.

We LOVE this bread!

Event: World Bread Day (2010)

World Bread Day 2010 Coinciding with World Food Day, Zorra (1x umrühren bitte) is once again hosting World Bread Day. She wrote:

Let’s bake and talk about bread on this day again! Anybody is cordially invited to participate. Lots of people stopping by this blog that weren’t around last year, I encourage both old and new friends to join in. And please spread the word!

The theme is open, just bake a bread with or without yeast, use sourdough, experiment with different flours, add some seeds… It’s up to you!

How to participate: […]

  • Bake or buy a bread, take pictures (if possible) and blog about it on Saturday, 16th October 2010. Just one entry per blog, please.
  • Your entry has to be a new post specifically for this event and the post cannot be entered in other food blog events.
  • Submissions can only be accepted until October 17 [2010].

For more information and complete details on how to participate in World Bread Day, please read the following:

Happy World Bread Day!!

Please also read about previous WBDs:

And finally, before completing your WBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about

YeastSpotting Yeastspotting - every Friday (wordle.net image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. And what a fabulous resource this has become. For complete details on the recipes that have been made and how to be included in the YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

Bookmarked Recipes Bookmarked Recipes - every Monday
Some time ago, Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked in various books, magazines and internet pages. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

But events come and go and posting roundups can become very time consuming and the event is no longer an official event. Even so, you might like to look at previous bookmarked recipes’ roundups:

edit 29 October 2010: Zorra has posted the World Bread Day 2010 roundup and after-hours party. Take a look! There are over 300 entries!

Lynn’s High Five High5: I did it!

High 5! I did it!! I have now made a minor dent in the bookmarked “I’ve GOT to make that now!” bread recipes in firefox.

World Food Day

World Food Day - 16 October World Food Day is a yearly event put together by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to raise funds to feed the world’s chronically hungry.

[T]here have never been so many hungry people in the world.

– Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

This year’s World Food Day theme is “United against Hunger”.

There is an unprecedented number of people in the world who will not be able to participate in World Bread Day. This is not because they are opposed to bread. It’s because there IS no bread.

As you think about bread today (and every day this year), please do more than just think about those who are in grievous need. If each one of us takes action today, collectively, we can end hunger.

Remember, just $1 (that’s 4 quarters, or 10 dimes) will make a world of difference to one hungry person. But there are a billion people online. If each one of those billion donates just $1, that’s turns into $1,000,000,000! Now that’s a world of difference to the hungry!

Please read more about what YOU can do to take your part in World Food Day:


Bloggers Against Hunger
Working together with the
World Food Programme
to prevent hunger

(As always, if you have something to add or say about ending world hunger, please remember to post your thoughts and ideas on your blog, facebook, at work, etc. etc.)

This entry was posted in baking, BBD, bread - yeasted & unyeasted, bread recipe, crossblogging, food & drink, hunger, posts with recipes on by .

* Thank you for visiting. Even though I may not get a chance to reply to you directly, I love seeing your responses and/or questions and read each and every one of them. Please note that your e-mail address will never be displayed on this site, nor will it ever be shared.

"Moderation" is in use. It may take a little time before your response appears. Responses containing unsolicited advertising will be deleted as spam (which means any subsequent attempts will be automatically relegated to the spam section and unlikely to be retrieved). For further information, please read the Discussion Policy.

3 responses to “Dragon Tail Baguettes (WBD/WFD)

  1. Susan/Wild Yeast

    I guess you got the “pinch” right without the scale! And are you serious about the fractional-gram scale? Are they illegal to possess or just to buy in Canada? I’ll send you one if it won’t land me in jail the next time I try to enter your beautiful country.

    I don’t think it’s illegal for me to possess it. I just can’t seem to buy one for home use.
    I’ve googled and haven’t been able to find the actual law. All I know is that when I’ve placed an order on the various online companies that sell spoon-scales, I always get a message saying that it can’t be shipped to Canada. Googling is a bit of nightmare. There is NO mention of an admetior spoon-scale on the amazon.ca site, even though it’s sold on amazon.com. Going to various up-market kitchen stores is also pretty much useless. People look at me as if I’m crazy: WHY would I neeeed to be able to measure in fractions of grams anyway??? I can only get a scale like that if I am a shop keeper and need a scale that’s “legal for trade”. A gram is already so tiny….

  2. azélias kitchen

    Do you realise the mere mention of the word “baguettes” fills me with fear. I have to make some soon to get over my fear. I love baguettes because I’m a lover of crust on bread so they’re the perfect ratio of crust to crumb. They just look terrifying to make for some reason but I have the same fear about making Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts). In the case of the custard tarts it’s not the difficulty of the recipe but the fact I’ll fail terribly and they just happen to be my favourite.

    I see a pattern here, I’m terrified of making the very things I love to eat…hhmmm…wonder what’s that about?

    Your crumb looks lovely and light. Baker’s like you who have tackle baguettes have climbed mount Everest as far as I’m concerned :)

    Baguettes aren’t as terrifying as they seem, Azélia! …I know what you mean; for years I was completely petrified. Take a look at those YouTube videos listed on the note on shaping. They really really helped me. (My husband adores those tarts!! Do you have a recipe?) – Elizabeth

  3. zorra

    Love your Dragon Tail Baguettes! Thank you for reminding me the recipe, I wanted to bake them too and thank you for joining also this year’s World Bread Day.

    edit 29 October: Thank you, Zorra. And thank you also for hosting World Bread Day! It’s a wonderful resource. And do make the baguettes – not just using Susan’s shaping technique. Her recipe is excellent too. (It’s so good that I’ve just mixed up another batch of dragontail dough this morning.) Elizabeth


Post a Response

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the optional fields that point to your website URL and website name may be removed without notice. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.