The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Traditional French Baguettes

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cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

Traditional French Baguettes

http://vimeo.com/48925507

My guy, Paul, is a lover of bread. In particular, he loves a good baguette. Through him, I have been initiated into the life of baguette enthusiasm.  A good baguette is dark and crusty on the outside, fluffy and light on the inside. That seems simple enough, most baguettes should fit that description vaguely, but there is a scale within that description. In France we found that the artisanal handmade loaves are usually best and everything else is, well, not best.

In France, bakeries prepare baguettes and other breads daily, usually preparing a morning batch and an evening batch in order to provide the freshest loaves all day long. In order to stock the shelves with the freshest breads when the shop opens at 6a, Boulanger William Courderot begins his day at 1am. When we arrived to meet him at 5am, he was well into his daily routine. Each day, Courderot rolls out 600 traditional baguettes and each day they fly off the shelf.

There are many types of baguettes. The hand rolled ones are usually called tradition or l'ancienne, they are made in the old French way. You can literally taste the love with which they are made. This is why I advise you to steer clear of the standard machine made baguettes! They are usually lighter in color, less crispy. They are longer and more uniform, there is no trace of flour on the finished crust, and they are maybe 10 cents cheaper. I'm not sure why anybody buys them.

In the states, it's getting more and more possible to find quality bread but it's still always fun to see what you can do yourself. When we were in France, I made a pact to learn how to make a good baguette by baking them daily. But after a couple of sad attempts, I gave in to the fact that everywhere I looked I saw perfect baguettes for €1 or less. I was in the land of incredible baguettes and I wasn't about to waste time and empty calories on bad ones! It takes a lot of patience to come up with a method that works for you in your setting. It's tough for a recipe to account for the moisture or dryness of the air in your environment. Consumer ovens just don't get as hot as industrial ones. But have no fear, Julia Child is here! Julia offers a thorough recipe with helpful pictures in her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1, and you can see her recipe sans photos here.

One useful tip I can offer to fresh bread lovers: the best way to keep baguettes and other breads fresh and tasty is to wrap them in aluminum foil and freeze. If you have a big country loaf, cut it into smaller more manageable meal-size pieces and wrap each piece separately. When you want to eat some bread, place it in the oven or toaster oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes. When you can easily squeeze the baguette in your hand (with a glove of course), remove the foil, turn off the oven and put the bread back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so to crisp it up. Enjoy!

William Courderot's French Baguette

Ingredients

1 kg farine / ~7 cups flour

650 g eau / ~3 cups water

20 g sel / ~3.5 tsp salt

20 g levure / ~5 tsp yeast

Method

Mix all ingredients in kitchenaid or cuisinart mixer until smooth. Let rest for an hour and a half.

Flour prep area and separate dough into three equal pieces. Generously flour a linen cloth. Gently fold the dough over itself and roll while pushing the dough outwards until it becomes a long snake. Notice how little Courderot handles the dough as he forms it into baguettes. Don't handle the dough more than you have to. Place the baguettes on your floured linen cloth, cradling each loaf in fabric so they don't touch one another. Leave to rest for one hour.

Preheat oven to 550°F (or as high as your oven will go).

Use a new razor blade or very sharp knife to score the bread with evenly distributed diagonal marks, about 4-5 scores per loaf. Fill a cast iron pan with ice water and place it on the bottom rack of your oven. This helps keep a good amount of moisture in the oven while the bread bakes. Place the baguettes in the oven for 20-30minutes or until they are crusty and brown. When they're done, let them cool on a rack for 10 minutes or so before you break bread.

Enjoy!

-Cookingbyheart.org

Comments

dakkar's picture
dakkar

This video and recipee have been a break though for me!  I've made it 4 times in the last week and the results are really good!

The video was extremely helpful in getting the proper shaping technique.  The music didn't hurt either!

 

Merci!

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

I'm so glad you've found this video helpful. post a picture of your baguettes! I'd love to see.

Best,

Alana

grind's picture
grind

What a great video, thank you for sharing it.

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

i'm very happy you enjoyed it!

 

dakkar's picture
dakkar

It's kind of hard to tell, but the bread looks pretty good.  Although this time around I overproofed quite a bit...

Will try to post nicer picture when I make a nicer batch...  but the taste is excellent!

 

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

great! i'm so glad you made a good loaf! congratulations

hooksha's picture
hooksha

Simply Beautiful & great video too. The recipe is perfect. Chapeau to baker William.

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

thank you!

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Can it really be that easy??  I have been holding off making baguettes just due to the fact of hearing they are one of the more complicated of breads to make.  No pre-ferment??  No bulk-fermenting??  No stretching or folding or kneading?? 

C'mon really? :)

John

cookingbyheart's picture
cookingbyheart

hey John,
I am with you. i have been very intimidated by the baguette but that is why i wanted to watch a master baker and that is also why it was so incredible to see how simple it really is...at least how simple it can be for someone who knows what he's doing! ;)

Mussdog70's picture
Mussdog70

So I know this is an old post but I am a new bread beaker trying to get better. I have some questions regarding this recipe.

1.  yeast or rapid rise yeast?  Is there a standard when a recipe just calls for yeast?

2. Flour- always bread flower unless noted as AP?

3. Any idea on how long until smooth?  I realize there are many factors but curious to an approximate!

Thanks in advance. I have already learned so much from this forum.

 

Heliman's picture
Heliman

Can someone please advise what the correct amount of salt and yest are.

The main recipe and video say 20 g each of salt and yeast, but the teaspoon amount for salt is 3.5 t and yeast is 5 t so something is not right.

i am keen to make baguettes tomorrow and want to get the recipe right so hopefully someone can clarify this for me.

many thanks

Rossco in Perth

Heliman's picture
Heliman

Round number 1 = disaster

I scaled the recipe using bakers % to the following (maintaining 65% hydration):

IngredientsWeight (g)Percentage
Flour295.9100.0%
Water192.365.0%
Salt5.92.0%
Yeast5.92.0%

Starting with the water, I combined all the ingredients in the KA and it formed small balls, hard balls like I was making pastry. I have allowed 20 min autolyse but still the flour won't combine. Admittedly the 12% flour is about a year old so not the freshest but this is the first time I have seen something like this happening. I made several batches of Neapolitan dough during the week and all turned out fine.

Suggestions welcomed..

Thanks

Rossco

IngredientsWeight (g)Percentage
Flour295.9100.0%
Water192.365.0%
Salt5.92.0%
Yeast5.92.0%
Heliman's picture
Heliman

I have just checked my mix - I think I may have added too much flour in the first batch so binned that and sifted the next batch. All looks good so far using the previously posted recipe. I will be baking in my woodfired oven shortly and hopefully the results will be along the lines to the samples seen on the video, They look amazing..

Rossco...

Jo Dumergue's picture
Jo Dumergue

I made the baguettes today for the first time, using my KitchenAid with dough hook - so easy.  On looking again at William making his fabulous baguette dough, I believe I should have mixed for about 5 minutes to make the dough stretchy - but anyway, all good and my baguettes came out of the steam oven (bowl of water and a couple of sprays during the bake) - only problem was that they did not have that lovely golden colour - they were cooked, crunchy and delicious but just not quite how I want them.....any suggestions would be welcome please.

Cheers

Jo from Sydney