The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

French baguette

kneady's picture
kneady

French baguette

I would like a recipe for French baguette type bread.  I say 'type' as I know there a those on this site who would say it's impossible to make a real French baguette with my limitations.


I do not want to use a starter, etc.  I do not have a mixer and make all my bread by hand.


I do not have a baguette pan.


I use organic, non-bleached flour direct from the mill.


I know this is probably a tall order but has anyone successfully made a French baguette


in this simple way?

Ford's picture
Ford

I prefer the soursough recipe, but here is one using commercial yeast.



FRENCH BAGUETTE, BÂTARD, & BOULE ♥

Note: I have tried for years to make an authentic loaf of French bread.  This recipe gives a more open structure than other recipes that I have tried, and it is as good as I have tasted.  It has a slightly sour taste, large holes in the crumb, and a crisp crust.  The dough is very slack (wet), very hard to handle, and most difficult to knead by hand.  The people at King Arthur tell me that the wet dough is the key to getting the open structure of artisan breads.  I recommend that the ingredients be measured by weight for greater accuracy.  If you cannot weigh, then sift the flour to get it to its greatest volume.  Sprinkle the flour into measuring cups and scrape off the excess flour with a straight edge.  Don’t measure the flour in transparent cups that use graduations to show the volume.  The difference in these loaves is only in their shape.  The baguette is a long thin loaf; the batarde is a fatter loaf; and the boule is a ball shaped loaf.

POOLISH
 
1 1/2 cup (6.4 oz.) King Arthur All-purpose flour
3/4  cup (6 oz.) cool water, 60 °F
1/8 tspn. active dry yeast
 
Poolish hydration: 94%

Combine the ingredients and mix just until blended in a bowl allowing enough room for the dough (94% hydration) to rise to triple its volume.  Yes, there is only an eighth of a teaspoon of yeast in this poolish.  Cover the bowl with plastic and allow it to ferment for 12 to 24 hours.  It should become bubbly and form a dome.  It is best to catch it before it falls (so I am told), but don’t worry if it does fall, it will still work.  The poolish will also work if refrigerated.  If refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for two hours, to come to room temperature, before proceeding.


BAGUETTE DOUGH AND BAKING
 
3 cup (12.8 oz.) King Arthur All-purpose flour
2 tspn. active dry yeast (the remainder in the packet)
2 1/2  tspn. (0.5 oz.) salt
All of the poolish
7/8 cup (7 oz.) cool water, 60 °F
 
Dough hydration: 67%

Dissolve the yeast in a little of the water.  Then add all of the ingredients to the bowl of the mixer you intend to use.  (I have used a Cuisinart Food Processor, also a Hobart’s Kitchen Aid 5 quart MIxer with dough hook.)  Mix the ingredients until just barely combined.  Let the dough (68% hydration) rest for 20 to 30 minutes.  (autolyse)



Knead the dough until it is cohesive and elastic, but not perfectly smooth.  It should form a ball and clean the sides of the bowl, but it should still have a rough surface and not the smooth one of fully kneaded dough.  King Arthur bakers estimate it takes 7 minutes in a bread machine, 5 minutes in a mixer, or 1 minute in a food processor.  Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl.  Cover it and let it rise for about 2 hours.  During this period, with well-oiled hands, lift the dough, gently deflate it, fold it over on itself, and then replace it in the bowl.  This folding helps strengthen the gluten.



After two hours or so, transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface.  I find that an oiled piece of parchment paper on the counter top does well.  Divide the dough into three pieces (about 10 1/2 oz. each) and gently form them into rough logs.  Let them rest for about twenty minutes then shape them into 13 to 14 inch long thin baguettes as described in the next paragraph. The dough may also be formed into batard, boule, or rolls.



Preheat the oven to 500°F with the baking stone in place, if you have one. Working with one piece at a time, flatten the “log” and fold it in half, side to side, so as to maintain its length.  Seal the seam with your fingers or the heel of your hand pulling the surface giving the dough a tight skin and to form a 13 to 14 inch long baguette.  Place the baguettes on the lightly oiled baguette pan, seam side down, and let them rise for about 45 minutes.


(Traditional directions call for the rising to be done covered in the folds of a lightly floured couche (linen or cotton cloth).  They may also rise on a lightly oiled parchment.  Since I have a baking stone and I have had trouble moving the formed pieces of dough, I have let them rise, covered, on a wooden peel that has been dusted with cornmeal.  I have also shaped them on a lightly floured surface and shaped them with lightly floured hands.  Ford)



Place a pan of boiling water under the baking rack.  After the loaves have risen, gently slash each loaf with four diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep and at a 45° angle, not straight down.  Place pan (or slide the loaves) on to the baking stone and spray them with water.  They may also be baked in the greased baguette pan or on the greased parchment paper.  Reduce the oven temperature to 475°F and bake the loaves for about 20 minutes to a deep golden brown color (195 to 205°F interior temperature).  Remove the baguettes to a cooling rack.  Let the loaves cool completely before slicing; otherwise, the interior will be gummy.  Because there is no milk or fat in this bread it will get stale rather quickly.  It can be frozen then refreshed by placing the loaf directly on the rack of a 300 – 350°F oven for about 5 or 10 minutes.


Modified from King Arthur Flour Co.; http://www.kingarthurflour.com/

Ford

LindyD's picture
LindyD

I have no idea where you've gotten your misinformation that somehow a "real" baguette must be mixed in a stand mixer using nonorganic wheat, then baked in a metal form.  That's simply silly - and wrong.


Here's a good recipe to start with - and you can't get more French than the baker who created it.


 

foodslut's picture
foodslut

You probably get a somewhat better flavour from a pre-ferment, but everyone who says it's not critical are correct - no-name all purpose flour, water, salt & yeast are all I use to get decent baguettes.


For example, here's a baguette I baked tonight using part of a batch of "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day" formula dough (I do about 70% hydration, no kneading) that was in the fridge for about a week:




Pretty enough for a bread-baking contest?  No.  Easy and tasty?  Damned straight.  Good enough to give as a gift?  Yup.


As for the baguette pans/moulds, spend the money on more flour or interesting ingredients, not those.  Learn how to shape them, and you're good to go - I like this method of shaping baguettes via YouTube here.


Go forth and enjoy, don't be intimidated (bread baking is supposed to be like the sauna:  aim to enjoy, not endure), and let us know how it works!

kneady's picture
kneady

LindyD, I do not think I even suggested that a stand mixer, non-organic wheat, etc. MUST be used to make a real baguette. I was just pointing out what ingredients and equipment I usually use for baking bread, knowing that many on this site use stand mixers, etc. and wondering if I could make a successful baguette with my limited resources.


Incidentally, I ended up making French baguettes from Peter Reinhart's recipe - the first time I have ever used a Poolish and they turned out fabulously even though I kneaded by hand with one arm in a splint.

Bloodshotistic's picture
Bloodshotistic

The focus or authenticity should be on ingredients and the cooking. The finished product is the main focus. If you are looking for an authentic experience, sure, go all out neurotic. Buy the oven, fashion the bread peel, do whatever it takes to make the experience like you're in Paris. However, to focus on the flavor and taste of the finished bread, the smell of yeast and fresh moisture of steam, the feel of a crisp touch of bread as well as the sound and crackle of the crust (Ratatouille), and the aesthetic look of it all.

Yuki-Johan's picture
Yuki-Johan

I am also a newbie baking a baguette and i agree with LindyD too. 

alabubba's picture
alabubba

1 million percent. The Anis Boabsa baguette is wonderful.


I have made them many times without a stand mixer.


This has become such a staple bread in my house, I make it about once a week.


It is the standard to which I judge all other baguettes.

teketeke's picture
teketeke

deleted

MickiColl's picture
MickiColl

what do I need to do to get a thin, crispy crust instead of the thick, hard, tough crust I've been getting ?


is it the steaming that gives this thck crust ? even my english muffins (I fried them, covered) had a thick crust. I want to make French loaf or Baguette .. but with a thin, crispy crust. any suggestions welcome, please. I am so frustrated ..

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, MickiColl.


I think it's difficult to get the really thin, crisp, crackly crust of the perfect baguette in a home oven, but here are some things that help you get closer:


1. Use lower gluten flour for a crisp rather than a crunchy crust.


2. Start with a really hot oven (500ºF) to get good oven spring and bloom, then lower the temperature when you load the loaves.


3. Steam the oven just before and just after loading the loaves. After the crust starts to color, you want a dry oven, though. (Remove your steaming pan. Vent the steam. Switch from standard to convection bake, if convection vents the hot air better. (Depends on the oven.)


4. Use a temperature that will bake your baguettes in 20-25 minutes with the crust color you want. Depending on their diameter, this may be 460-480ºF.


I hope this helps.


David


 

MickiColl's picture
MickiColl

thank you for the response. I am a novice so please bear with me.


how do I determine if my flour is low gluten ? I have KA bread flour (wheat and white) and Gold Medal unbleached AP. no convection oven. should I do a 24 - 48 hour poolish ? or does this have any impact on the crust ? is it possible to get the crisp crust with sourdough ? (my starter is doing great)


I am really getting tired of hustling to Von's (Safeway) to get my fresh just out of the oven french bread.

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Hi, MickiColl.


Gluten roughly corresponds to protein content, which is usually listed on the flour bag under nutritional data. An AP flour is generally lower protein than "bread flour."


Use of pre-ferments like a poolish will enhance flavor but shouldn't effect the crust that much. BTW, a poolish does not ferment for "24-48" hours. 8-12 hours would be more like it. You can get a crisp crust with sourdough, but sourdoughs tend to get chewy quicker. Having said that, if you have a sourdough starter ready to go, do try this one: Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough


As a novice, you should know that good baguettes are not hard to make. Great baguettes are among the most challenging breads for the home baker. There are lots of things others can tell you, but you need to look at it as a long -term project. If you stick with it, you will make better baguettes than you can buy almost anywhere in the US, but it won't happen without lots of experience.


Happy baking!


David

teketeke's picture
teketeke

deleted

teketeke's picture
teketeke

deleted

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

Hi I know this has been written many times, but almost all authors mention couches. Almost NO authors mention flipboards, which move the bread from the couch to the peel.  Flipboards make it very simple. You can be see them or find them at TMB website.  There is a very, very good illustation of how to use them on this website.  I am very sorry,but I  couldn't find this link.  But it is there. I think it was from David.  Perhaps somewone else can send it to our new baker.  You all will probably get sick of me posting this to every new baker, but I fought my couche for so long until a baker's apprentice that I meet in line a Disneyland asked if I was using a nylon stocking on my flipbord.  Flipboard??? Have a wonderful day baking.  highmtnpam

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

Also known as "transfer peels."


There have been many discussions of this which you can find by searching on both terms.


The most ingenious solution, in my opinion, was Howard's (holds99). You can find it here: Ciabatta loaves made from Rose Levy Beranbaums Bread Bible and Bread Board


I made my transfer peel from a board knocked off a wooden case of French wine. I sanded it down. To use it, I just rub a little flour into it.



David

highmtnpam's picture
highmtnpam

David,  Thank you for the link.  I don't think it matters what you use as long as you are aware of the concept.  The clipboard is a great idea (unless you wanted to send me a case of wine)  I  know my bread would be better just by the contact with the wine.  Thanks again.  Pam

Bloodshotistic's picture
Bloodshotistic

Five senses with respect to the bread: 95%. What type of flour and other secondary things: 4%. What you choose to do with it all: 1%