The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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WilderThanYeast's picture

Only my baguettes are pale.

December 13, 2012 - 5:57am -- WilderThanYeast

Whenever I make baguettes, they don't brown at all, no matter how long I leave them in. They burn before browning. I was wondering why's that? My oven is at the right temp and every type of bread I make browns properly in the oven, EXCEPT baguettes (lean dough).

Another minor problem: my baguettes are almost always slightly flat. I'd like them to be more round.

I tried both Ciril Hitz's recipe and Akiko's recipe here on TFL.


cookingbyheart's picture

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


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


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.


Justkneadit's picture

After my sourdough boule disaster this past weekend, my bake with baguette a l'ancienne recipe boosted my confidience a smidgen...


and also some crumb...

Now, it doesn't have deep open crumb the size of the Grand Canyon like DonD, txfarmer or Ian, but it is an improvement and I'll take it. I followed the same recipe as last week except:

  • No rye and a full 500g of KAF AP
  • 26 hour autolyse and 26 hour fridge proof
  • Minimal handling, flipping board would help immensely

The crust was thin but crunchy and the crumb was creamy and fantastic! I swear it almost had a hint of butter. My girlfriend actually woke up at 6 am when they came out of the oven, grabbed half a baguette, muttered delicious and went back to bed. I laughed. Any comments or critiques feel free!


Amazing the difference between the 12 and 24 hr  cold autolyse.

Justkneadit's picture


After having a successful first try at my first of two recipes I will bake for a year, my sourdough boule, I gave DonD's recipe for Baguettes a l'Ancienne my best. I will say a good baguette is not as simple as it may seem, and I feel this recipe will take more time to become proficient.

The method to my madness...


Flour Mixture

  • 470g KAF AP
  • 30g Arrowhead Mills Whole Grain Rye
  • 300g Cold Water (38F)


  • 50g Cold Water (40F)
  • 10g Pink Himaylan Salt
  • 2g Instant Yeast


  1. Mix flour and cold water into a doughy blob. Temp of dough after mixing 63.7F. Place in fridge for 12hr at 42.2F.
  2. Pull flour mix out of fridge and mix in 50g of cold water and yeast. This was um...difficult at first. Between freezing my fingers and fighting the slimy mixture I finally brought it together, about 10 min. 
  3. Then add the salt and knead until distributed evenly, using Bertinet's method.
  4. Let the dough rest for 15 min, then began 1st of 4 S&F's at 30 min apart and then 2 S&F at 45 min apart.
  5. Place dough in oiled bowl, in to a plastic bag it went and then in to the fridge (44.2F) for 24hr.
  6. Pull out of the fridge, gently divide into three 270g pieces and gently preshape into a fat log. I used Ciril Hitz's method for prehaping and shaping. Cover with plastic and let rest for 1hr.
  7. Preheat oven to 490F. I gently degased and shaped then proofed en couche for 45 min seam side up.
  8. Misted sides of the oven, transferred baguettes to baguette pan, scored and placed in oven with 2/3 cup of boiling water. Immediately turned oven down to 460F. Bake for 10 min then remove pan with lava rocks and reduce to 430F for 10 min. Then turned off oven and opened the door and let the baguettes sit for 5 min. Allowed to cool for 30 min.

My results are as follows, but not exactly what I wanted.


Crumb was no where near what I wanted or comparable to DonD's wonderful baguettes, but then again I have only just begun. Maybe no degas the next time and some work on shaping and scoring wouldn't hurt.

Crust color was a little light. Any tips?

What is the purpose of the rye in the recipe? The inside was nice and soft with a thin crunchy crust but I thought the taste was a bit off. In all honesty a may have forgotten the salt but I can't remember, mise en place right? So, the no salt could have been the culprit, not totally sure I forgot it though. Anyways I'm open to suggestion, critques or comments. Thanks!

Justkneadit's picture

    I only recently delved into the world of bread, and before I overwhelm myself with the plethora of recipes I am going to hone in on the basics with 2 recipes. I have been reading Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice and obtaining the "feel" for the dough is my end goal. Instead of relying on timers, I want to depend on my senses.

   My hope for this year long bread baking journey is to be able to bake an excellent sourdough boule and baguette. That is not to say I wont bake a few odd recipes here and there, but my main focus will be on the basic sourdough recipe posted by cranbo which I will use for my boule and the Baguettes a l'Ancienne recipe posted by DonD for my baguettes. Gaining experience using a sourdough starter and instant yeast will be invaulable. Already, I can see the subtle and sometimes obvious differences in the way each type of yeast acts on the dough. As I gain experience hopefully it will lead to better tasting bread.

   I must be honest, I will be posting rookie questions for quite some time, but I have noticed already how helpful the TFL community is and hopefully you all can guide me through my trials and errors. Well here goes a year of enjoyment.




Jonathan.Browne's picture

Scoring disappearing....

September 23, 2012 - 12:54pm -- Jonathan.Browne

Hi all, my first post on TFL! A newbie for a little advice for the experts!

Every couple months I set aside a day to make bauguettes and batards - white and brown, 20 or so at a time, for freezing. I've been doing this for about a year, been quite pleased with the outcome. I originally used the CIA baguette recipe, and then moved to Peter Reinhart's recipes.

nycbaker11's picture

Calling on all Master Baguette Bakers

August 21, 2012 - 7:54am -- nycbaker11

Hello Bakers...2 years ago I gave baguettes a try and I was so intimidated that I retired them from my baking list right there after lol.  Last week I got the urge to finally give it another try and I went with the Bouabsa version, pretty simple and straight forward but the outcome was eh... pretty lame . 

Philip Shaddock's picture
Philip Shaddock

I have recently be on a quest to bake a baguette at least as good as those available from a local artisan baker, called "Terra Breads," here on the west coast of Canada. It began with the purchase of a bread machine, which some would consider a bad start. I made it an absolute requirement because I wanted a sustainable bread making method, one that I would not abandon six months or a year from now. The bread machine bakes bread in a rather ugly block shape with an unappetizing crust. So I knew I would be finishing the baking outside the bread machine. The bread machine would just do the dirty work. Was it possible?

I learned that steam is key to getting a well-browned crust, a feature of professional ovens. After experimenting with the hot stone and water in a pan method, I watched an episode of America's Test Kitchen and discovered how to simulate a professional steam baking oven. ATC used a large dutch oven, but a little research revealed the existence of the Sassafras Clay Baker, which has the right shape and the right material for creating a red hot, steamy environment for creaking a crackly crust on bread. (See it here.) I tried a Peter Reinhardt recipe in the clay baker and it came out with a very good crust, and a soft crumb but no big holes! I also made the mistake of using bread flour rather than All Purpose flour. Here is the Reinhardt loaf...perhaps a little too long in the oven! And the slashes are not at the right angle!

Ultimately my search for a recipe landed me here on "The Fresh Loaf" and Anis Bouabsa's recipe and cold fermentation method for the perfect home cooked baguette as interpreted in the dmsnyder blog: here.

I decided to adapt David`s recipe to my own method. I added the water and salt to the bottom of my bread machine pan and then added the flour and finally the yeast. I used a local favourite, Roger`s All Purpose, made entirely of hard wheat and excellent for bread making. Then I mixed the ingredients using the bread machine`s dough cyle. I only mixed it in the bread cycle until the dough was in a big wet ball, canceling the rest of the cycle and placing the wet ball of dough into a bowl and into the fridge.

I followed David`s steps until it was time to put the ficelle in the oven. Forty five minutes before baking, the clay baker went into the oven set at 500 degrees F. When it was ready, into the baker went the dough. I figured correctly there was no need to add water to the clay baker. After ten minutes I spun the baker around to make sure the loaf baked evenly. After another ten minutes out came the loaf and I measured the loaf`s temperature. Perfect. 208 degrees f. What was more: the crust and crumb were perfect.

There are those holes I had so missed in earlier attempts. I think the dough was wetter than it should have been (probably because David`s flour absorbs more water). The baguette did not expand as much as I would have wanted but the crumb was otherwise perfect. So the next batch I try I am going to reduce the amount of water slightly. However, I can tell you the loaf was absolutely delicious, with a nice clean wheaty taste and a wonderful mouth feel. The crust was nice and hard, making it difficult to insert the instant thermometer at the heel of the loaf. Perfectly chewy with a soft, light crumb.

An excellent method for a sustainable baguette loaf which is every bit as good as the best artisan baguette available locally. Thanks to the person who originally got the recipe from Anis Bouabsa, and for David Snyder for sharing the recipe.

Philip Shaddock


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