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Get fresh, delicious, bakery style French Baguettes at home with ease. All you need is some bread flour, instant yeast, fine sea salt, and water. With just a few pastry chef baking techniques and tips to ensure that your baguettes come out perfectly every time, this can be on your table every night.
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- Bread for the Farmer’s Market or your Kitchen Table
- What is an artisan bread?
- Choosing the Perfect Crust
- Ingredients for a French Baguette
- How to measure flour
- What makes a baguette different from other breads?
- How to Ferment Bread Dough
- Making the Dough
- Shaping the Baguettes
- Baking the Baguettes
- Tips and Troubleshooting
- FAQs about Bread Baking
- Recipes Using Leftover Baguettes
- Pin it for Later or Share on Facebook
Bread for the Farmer’s Market or your Kitchen Table
Becoming an artisan bread maker has never been easier than it is today! With the wealth of knowledge at our fingertips, you can make anything from traditional white bread to sourdough, boules to baguettes, and everything in-between to sell at your local farmers market.
In fact I encourage it! If your town has a food sovereignty act like the state of Maine does, take advantage of my Chef-tested recipes. Perfect them and sell the results. Or simply wow your family night after night with fresh baked goods and take all the credit! I’m fine with that too 🙂
What is an artisan bread?
An artisan bread is a type of bread that is made using traditional methods, such as long fermentation times and natural sourdough starters, as opposed to modern commercial methods that prioritize speed and efficiency.
Artisan breads are typically made with high-quality ingredients, such as organic flours, and are often hand-shaped and baked in a hearth oven, which gives them a unique texture and flavor. Artisan breads can come in many different shapes and sizes, and can be made with a variety of ingredients, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
They are often more expensive than commercially produced breads, but are highly valued for their flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Artisan breads are a popular choice among bread enthusiasts and are often sold at specialty bakeries and farmers markets.
To make this French Baguette as an artisan bread consider using organic bread flour or freshly milled flour, and high quality sea salt. The rest of the “name tag” will come from the long fermentation and setting of the perfect crust.
Choosing the Perfect Crust
Take a moment to look at the two photos below. Both baguettes were made with the same ingredients and the same process except for one key element: steam in the oven.
The first baguette which is a lighter tan in color, was baked with a tin of water at the bottom of the oven. This water came to temperature with the oven and created a steam oven. This allows for a more fluid environment that encourages the dough to gently expand to its fullest potential during baking. The result is tender perfection inside and out. Perfect for kids to enjoy with dinner.
The second baguette is a caramel tan in color. This baguette was cooked without steam. This causes the outside layer of the baguette to set almost immediately upon being added to the hot, dry oven. The result is “not the look, not the smell, but the sound – only great bread sounds this way” as Colette from Ratatouille would say. The crust is a signature element in French bread. This style is often used for crostini and set upon French Onion Soup.
Neither one is better nor worse than the other. It simply is a matter of preference and depends on who you’re serving, and what you’re serving it with. My kids will always choose the more tender of the two. But if Travis and I are having caprese crostini, we will go for the more traditional French bread.
Ingredients for a French Baguette
The best way to have perfect baguettes every time is to weigh your ingredients with a simple kitchen scale. Especially if you’re going to sell your products, or to make the most of your money spent, a kitchen scale will ensure you do not go over or under from recipe to recipe.
- 750 grams bread flour (6-1/4 cups)
- 8 grams instant yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
- 15 grams fine sea salt (about 3/4 Tablespoon)
- 495 ml water (about 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons)
How to measure flour
If you’re in the U.S. you may or may not have a kitchen scale. If you don’t currently have one and want to make fresh baguettes for dinner tonight (or breakfast in the morning!) I’ve converted the ingredient amounts above for you. But the key is knowing how to measure the flour.
Do not scoop flour. Reaching into a bag or bin of flour and scooping with a cup measurement will create an inaccurate cup as it compresses the flour within the cup. You’ll end up with much more in your cup than what is required weight wise. This will result in a tough and dry bread.
The best way to measure using cups, is to take a spoonful of flour from the bag at a time and gently shake into your cup measurement. This will lift and aerate your flour a bit as you measure, preventing it from compacting. Use the flat of the spoon handle to scrape the measuring cup and level off the flour. See the quick video below for this and more kitchen tips.
What makes a baguette different from other breads?
Truth is, baguettes, boules, bâtards, and even some white breads all use the same ingredients. They are lean doughs, meaning they do not incorporate a large amount of fat in the form of butter or oil. The flavor then comes from both the yeast (especially if using sourdough) and the fermentation time. A longer, slower, fermentation (often a cold fermentation such as in a refrigerator overnight) will produce a better tasting final bread. The shape, the ratio of crust to crumb, and tightness of the crumb all contribute to the difference in styles.
How to Ferment Bread Dough
Fermenting a bread dough, also known as proofing, can be done on the counter, in a warming drawer or previously warm oven, or in a refrigerator. Here are a few ways to ferment your doughs:
- On the counter: This is the most variable of all the options. Your rise time could be long or short depending on the temperature and humidity of your kitchen. So it may be difficult to plan whether your bread will be ready for dinner. Your best bet in this case is to place the dough in a warm, draft-free area of your home during fermentation. This is the top of a refrigerator for most.
- In a pre-warmed oven: Many ovens used to have warming drawers. Most households use them as a storage option for baking sheets. If your oven still has this option, feel free to use it. You can also set your oven to 200F. Once it has come to temperature, shut it off. Open the door to the oven for a couple of minutes, then place your covered dough in the closed oven. The residual heat will create a warm environment that promotes proofing. You’re wanting no warmer than 90F. Use an oven thermometer for accuracy. Otherwise you risk pre-cooking your dough.
- Near a woodstove: On a cold winters day when the woodstove is cranking out heat, I’ll take advantage and place the covered bowl on the top of our grand fireplace and let the radiant heat from the rocks encourage the dough to rise. This tends to happen pretty quickly. Just be careful not to get the bowl too close as you risk cooking the dough or drying it out in the process.
- In the refrigerator: Covered and placed in the refrigerator overnight will not stop the bread from proofing, it only slows it down. Fermentation is still happening even if you cannot see it. You’ll want to bring the dough to room temperature the next day and then continue with the warm area method to get it to double in size. The flavor will be well worth the wait.
Just like succession planting in the spring, consider succession bread baking. Get in the habit of creating doughs every day. Then you can have the doughs fermenting in the refrigerator up to 3 days in advance. Pull out a dough the morning of, come to room temperature, shape, proof and have fresh bread on the table every night.
Making the Dough
This is truly a short form set of instructions, an overview if you will. I always give detailed instructions in the recipe card as I want you to have those available when printing the recipe for your collection. But here’s a brief overview…
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients in a stand mixer bowl with a dough hook attachment. Start on low and increase to medium speed as ingredients combine.
- Mix for about 4 minutes. You’ll notice the dough becomes shaggy and shaping into a ball. Keep mixing for about another 10 minutes. The ball of dough will “clean” the bowl of any ingredient particles and begin to look like playdough or kinetic sand. It has a different texture than it initially did.
- Cover and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Pull the gluten-window by gently pulling on the dough and stretching a portion, without ripping it, to where you can see your fingers through the dough. This tells you the gluten is both strong and relaxed.
- Cover again and allow to ferment for at least an hour, using one of the methods mentioned above, until doubled in size.
Shaping the Baguettes
- Once the dough has risen, degas by pressing the dough with your fingers, and weigh into two equal pieces. This recipe can also make three thinner baguettes if you prefer.
- Start to shape into a baguette by tightly folding it onto itself in a semi-rectangular shape. This shape will help the middle to stay thicker and the ends to taper as a classic baguette.
- Roll the dough like you would a playdough snake. If the dough keeps bouncing back on you refusing to stretch, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest 10 minutes before continuing.
- Place the baguettes on a lightly greased baking sheet, or the flat side of a cast iron griddle. Spray the loaf with non-stick spray and cover with plastic wrap for about 30 minutes to an hour so the dough can again double in size.
Baking the Baguettes
- Preheat your oven to 425°F (230°C). See the section above about choosing a crust.
- Using a sharp knife or a razor blade, make several 1/2 inch deep cuts in the top of each baguette going lengthwise down the baguette.
- Bake the baguettes for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
- Remove the baguettes from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack before slicing and serving.
Tips and Troubleshooting
- Make sure to use bread flour, as it has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which gives the baguettes their characteristic chewy texture.
- Instant yeast is more reliable and easier to use than active dry yeast, and it can be added directly to the dry ingredients without needing to be activated in water first.
- Use fine sea salt instead of table salt, as it dissolves more easily and evenly in the dough.
- If the baguettes come out too dense or doughy, it may be because the dough was not kneaded enough, or because it did not rise long enough. Make sure to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic (use the gluten window test), and let it rise until it has doubled in size.
- If the baguettes come out too hard or crusty, it may be because they were baked at too high of a temperature, or for too long. Make sure to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly. Start with the time first before adjusting the temperature.
FAQs about Bread Baking
Yes, but you will need to activate the yeast in warm water first before adding it to the dry ingredients.
All-purpose flour can be used to make baguettes, but the resulting bread will have a softer, less chewy texture.
The dough should double in size and feel light and airy to the touch.
Yes, you can add other ingredients to the dough, but make sure to adjust the amount of liquid and flour accordingly. Other options would be making this into a Garlic Bread, or creating Focaccia instead of a baguette.
To keep leftover baguettes fresh, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store them at room temperature for up to 2 days. For longer storage, wrap the baguettes in plastic wrap and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Recipes Using Leftover Baguettes
- French Toast: Slice leftover baguette into thick slices and dip them into a mixture of beaten eggs, milk, and cinnamon. Fry in a buttered pan until golden brown and serve with syrup and fresh fruit.
- Bruschetta: Toast slices of baguette and top them with diced tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil for a simple and delicious appetizer.
- Panzanella: Cut leftover baguette into bite-sized pieces and toss them with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and a vinaigrette dressing for a refreshing salad.
- Crostini: Cut leftover baguette into thin slices and toast them until crispy. Top with your favorite toppings, such as cheese, meats, or vegetables, for a quick and easy appetizer.
- Bread Pudding: Tear leftover baguettes into small pieces and soak them in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Bake in the oven until golden brown and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
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- Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
- Dough Hook
- Non-Stick Spray
- plastic wrap
- Cast Iron Griddle or Sheet Pan
- Lame (knife or razor blade) optional
- Spray Bottle for Water optional
- Casserole or Bread Tin optional
- 750 grams bread flour
- 495 militeres water
- 15 grams sea salt
- 8 grams instant yeast
- Combine all ingredients, into the bowl in this order: water, yeast, bread flour, sea salt. Attach the dough hook and combine for 3 minutes until pickup stage. The dough will look like a shaggy ball.
- Continue mixing on medium speed (4) for about 6 to 10 minutes, reaching cleanup stage. The dough should look more like playdough and the bowl will look "clean" with no remnants of ingredients remaining.
- Remove the dough and knead on a clean counter to form into a smooth ball. Spray the stand mixer bowl with non-stick spray, and set the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes. **See notes below for pulling a gluten window.
- Once gluten window appears, reshape the ball and return to the greased bowl. Cover and ferment using one of the recommended methods listed in the blog post, for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Portion the dough into two 625 grams using a kitchen scale, or three 416 gram portions. Keeping the dough covered with plastic wrap while working with other portions, each portion is shaped into rounds and rested for 20 minutes.
- From there, shape each round into an oval. Begin to fold and pinch the dough over itself on the long edge creating a thicker middle and more tapered ends. Roll the dough like a snake, using two hands for even pressure until the dough reaches the length of your griddle or sheet pan. **If the dough stretches and springs back while working, recover with plastic and let rest 5 minutes before continuing to shape the dough. Work on the other baguette while the first dough rests.
- If using a griddle, lay the shaped baguette on the flat side of the griddle diagonally. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and cover the bread with the plastic wrap to ferment another 30 minutes to an hour until nearly doubled in size. If using a sheet pan, lay a piece of parchment paper on the sheet pan and spray with non-stick spray before adding the shaped dough. Again lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and lightly cover. Allow the dough to ferment and double in size.
- When just about doubled, preheat the oven to 425F (see notes in blog posts about choosing a crust). Just before adding to the oven, score with a lame, sharp knife or new razor blade. Make 3 to 5 1/2 inch deep cuts going top to bottom, overlapping by about 1/3 (please see photos).
- Spray the dough with water, create a steam bath in the oven, or place in the hot oven as is depending on your preferred crust and available tools. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Once golden brown they were remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to fully cool before slicing to serve.