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How to Bake a French Baguette
Oh, what it is to be French, the Eiffel Tower, Poodles and French Manicures. In all aspects, I really have no clue what it is like to be French, but I do dig their bread. Crusty baguettes that are so soft and irresistable in the middle, there might not be a better bread out there! The evidence for everyone's liking of French baguettes is quite clear, as they're sold commonly in markets all around the world.
Beware though, just because they're everywhere doesn't always mean they'll have the superior taste and lush texture the French intended for. Supermarket baguettes loaded with additives will never live up to the fine quality of a homemade specimen! So today, I'm paying my dues to the French by showing you how to bake a French Baguette using authentic techniques and four simple ingredients.
Before we dive into the recipe, I'd like to share my most important piece of advice, have patience! Making French Baguettes using the cold fermentation technique takes at least two days to complete. It's important not to speed this process up. Plan ahead, follow the recipe and allow plenty of time for your dough to do its own thing. After all, the recipe only requires about 15 minutes of hands on time, so it won't kill you to wait.
Recipe Specifics -
- Yield - Two 12" Baguettes
- Prep Time - One to Four Days
- Bake Time - 30 Minutes
- 2 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Package Active Dry Yeast
- 1 Cup Lukewarm Water
Forming the baguettes is the trickiest part. The photos above detail this process.
Day 1 - Creating the Dough
- In a large bowl, combine all of the above ingredients and stir until a dough ball forms.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead dough and any remnants until a consistently smooth and tacky dough forms. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
Day 2 - Forming & Proofing
- When you plan to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently slice into two chunks. With the chunks, loosely form rectangles.
- To start the baguette formation, pull the bottom edge of the rectangle up towards the top center of the loaf and seal. Next pull the opposite top edge over the seam you just made and seal again. At this point, your dough is now called a batard. Leave these for 10 minutes on a greased and floured baking sheet.
- After 10 minutes, repeat the same process with folding the edges toward the center of the baguette. This time, once the folding is complete, using your hands, gently roll the baguettes into the desired length. Let the baguettes rest at room temperature for another hour and a half.
Baking the Baguettes -
- Towards the end of the hour and a half of proofing, begin to preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to also place an empty baking tray at the bottom of your oven to preheat as well. This tray will serve as a steam bath to create an exceptional crust on your baguettes.
- Right before the baguettes go in the oven, make three diagonal slashes about 3/4" to 1" deep into the tops. Quickly place in the oven, pour in water for steam and close the door as quickly as possible. Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake for 11-13 minutes.
- After the 11-13 minutes is up, reduce the heat once more to 400 degrees and bake for 13-15 minutes longer. For a true French Baguette, the crust should be deep golden brown, hard and almost hollow sounding.
Alright! The French Baguettes are now successfully baked and just need around a half an hour to cool before you can dive into their soft insides. If you are here just for the recipe's sake, I'm happy to say that it's complete! If you're still not quite satisfied, continue on reading to discover a great appetizer idea using your French Baguettes, definitions of terms used and other great recipes from myself. Thanks for reading How to Bake a French Baguette.
A Baguette Appetizer Idea -
I use my French Baguettes for countless occasions and meals, but here's an appetizer that is uniquely good.
Baguettes w/ Creamy Cauliflower Parmesan Spread
- 1/2 Head Steamed Cauliflower
- 1/4lb Cooked Bacon
- 1/2 Sauteed Onion
- 1/2 C Parmesan Cheese
Combine all ingredients into the food processor or blender and pulse until all the components are well incorporated. Slice your French Baguette into 3/4" slices and top with one teaspoon of the Cauliflower mix. Place an extra slice of Parmesan on each bread top and place under the broiler until golden brown. They're really tasty and were actually created using leftover Ravioli filling from the previous night's cooking.
French Baguette : A small narrow loaf of bread that is portable and mainly used for sandwiches.
Cold Fermentation : A process in bread making where the yeast dough is placed in the refrigerator for extended periods of time. This slower fermentation period produces more complex flavor.
Batard - A batard is a type of bread similar to a baguette. In fact, it is actually a baguette that has not been rolled to a typical long and narrow shape. Batards are shorter and wider than a normal Baguette
Some other Fantastic Recipes:
Summer Squash Bread - Really like fresh bread but don't want to wait forever? Squash bread is my favorite loaf to bake in less than an hour.
Pumpkin Cookies - Next Halloween, turn your Jack o' Lantern into these tasty treats.
Winter Squash Pies - Create individual sized pies perfect for the holidays. Pumpkin is just one option.
Country Buns - Everything you could want for breakfast baked neatly inside a soft yeast bread.
Veggie Buns - Add some variation to a vegetarian diet with veggie buns.
Please leave me a comment, question or suggestion! Thanks again for reading and happy cooking!