Baguettes (French Bread)
Baguettes are long and thin shaped french bread using only the most basic of ingredients. Flour, water, yeast, and salt.
It really is incredible how much variation you can achieve using the same simple ingredient list!
After many years of bread baking, I’d still never attempted french bread baguettes, it was time to give it a try!
I warn you, if you are on a diet, avoid this bread! It is far too easy to eat. It is so light and tasty – crispy on the outside and soft as air inside.
After making two-foot long baguettes to go with a 2-day chicken bone broth soup yesterday, I am already working on another batch. They were devoured within hours! Kevin really has a bread habit now LOL.
Of course I had to adapt my own way of making them, as per my usual style.
This first attempt, I made within the day. My next batch will bulk cold ferment for a day or two.
French Bread Baguettes
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 + 2 tbsps. water
2 1/4 tsp. yeast
1 tbsp. salt
1 egg, optional (for wash)
Sift dry ingredients together. Add water and stir to combine.
Cover with plastic and autolyse 30 minutes. Fold dough 2 or 3 times, cover and autolyse another 30 minutes.
Turn out on wet counter and with wet hands, stretch and fold every 20 minutes for an hour.
Leave dough covered with plastic to triple in bulk. Divide, shape, and proof on heavily a floured couche.
Brush with egg wash. Cut slashes. Mist baguettes with water.
Slide baguettes into oven and use whatever method you prefer for steam. I placed a few ice cubes at the bottom of the oven.
Bake 18 – 22 minutes and cool on wire racks.
Kevin had the great idea of leaving the oven rack out while preheating the oven. When everything’s ready to go, put the baguettes on the rack, make your slashes, and put the whole thing in the oven. Since I don’t own a peel, this idea made things A LOT simpler!!
I don’t own many of the tools used in some kitchens. For a couche, I bought a pack of 2 aluminum baking sheets from the dollar store and spent a few minutes shaping them! I used a linen tea towel saturated with flour as a liner.
I use a wet razor blade instead of a bread lame. By the way, when slashing baguettes, you slash almost horizontally down the length of the loaf to get the slashes to open up into that traditional shape. (I’ll keep practising!:))
It would definitely be simpler to use the proper tools, but these will work, so don’t think you can’t make bread without them!
Here are some very helpful videos on techniques…
Stretch & Fold method: