Out of all white breads, the most famous is probably the French baguette. It’s a long, skinny loaf with a crunchy crust and an irregular crumb structure. (This means that there’s irregular-sized air holes in the inside.) The baguettes are traditionally slashed with four diagonal lines to control their rise in the oven and to allow steam to escape as they bake.
Surprisingly, baguettes are tricky to make perfectly. However, they are forgiving, as they will still taste great even if they don’t look the part. (That’s spoken from experience! 😉) The dough is pretty sticky, so that’s why I suggest mixing and kneading it in the stand mixer. Also, be careful and gentle when handling the dough, as you want to keep as much air in it as possible. It’s recommended that you use a lame to score the bread instead of a sharp serrated knife. The risen baguettes have a tough skin on the outside, which will be difficult to cut through with a knife.
Even though they’re a challenge to bake perfectly, I encourage you to make this recipe several times. You’ll get better with each batch! It’s so rewarding to pull a tray of freshly baked, homemade baguettes from your oven in just a few hours. There’s actually not much hands-on work needed for baguettes; just patience and a gentle hand. Besides, baguettes can be used for so many delicious recipes, like our tomato and basil bruschetta. 😋
Are you ready to make your own baguettes? Grab your beret and let’s get baking!Print
This delicious recipe for crusty homemade baguettes makes four wonderful loaves with a crunchy crust and soft interior. They taste wonderful in appetizers and sandwiches.
- 5 cups bread flour (500g)
- 3 teaspoons fast-action yeast (10g)
- 2 teaspoons salt (10g)
- 1 1/2 cups cool water (370 ml)
- Olive oil for greasing
Making & Proving the Dough (10 minutes + 3 hours proving)
- Place the flour in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and pour in the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl. Stir in each one with your finger.
- Pour in three-quarters of the water and start mixing with the paddle attachment on low speed. Trickle in the remaining water as the mixer runs.
- Knead the dough on medium-low speed for about 5 minutes until the dough has cleaned the sides of the bowl, is quite sticky and elastic, and passes the windowpane test. Do this by pulling off a lump of dough and stretching it between the thumb and forefinger of each hand to create a windowpane. The dough should stretch until it’s translucent without breaking. If it does, this means the dough has been sufficiently kneaded. If not, continue kneading for a minute longer and test again.
- Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it prove until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
- Gently stretch the dough to knock out some of the air. Pour the dough into a rectangular plastic tub that has been generously oiled. Cover tightly with oiled plastic wrap and let the dough prove until doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours.
Shaping the Baguettes (15 minutes + 1 hour proving)
- Prepare a large rimmed cookie sheet by turning it upside down and laying a linen couche or a large, old tea towel on it.
- Pour out the dough onto a floured surface and cut lengthwise into four pieces.
- To shape each baguette, pick up a piece of dough and place it on a very lightly floured surface. Fold the sides of the piece into the middle and pinch to seal, then roll very gently with the palms of your hands to get the baguette about 14 inches long. Be gentle with the dough, and try not to knock the air out of it.
- Place the baguette on the long edge of the tea towel and pleat the towel to create a wall on one side of the baguette. Place the next baguette right against this pleat and repeat the pleating for each baguette so each one is separated by a wall of fabric.
- Dust the baguettes lightly with flour and cover with a large tea towel. Let the baguettes prove until the dough springs back quickly when prodded with a fingertip, about 1 hour.
- About 10-15 minutes before the baguettes are done proving, preheat the oven to 450 F and put an old metal casserole dish on the lower rack to preheat.
Baking the Baguettes (20 minutes + 30 minutes cooling)
- Remove the baguettes from the couche or tea towel by gently rolling them onto another large cookie sheet. Make sure the baguettes aren’t touching, but be very careful not to knock the air out of them.
- Quickly slash each baguette with 4 angled lines using a bread baker’s lame. The lines should be fairly long and slightly angled. Hold the lame on a 30-degree angle relative to the bread and use quick strokes to prevent the dough from wrinkling as you cut.
- Put the baguettes on the middle shelf and quickly pour 1-2 cups of tap water into the hot metal dish. Immediately shut the oven door to trap in the steam.
- Bake the baguettes for 20-25 minutes until the baguettes are a rich golden brown and have an internal temperature of at least 190 F.
- Turn off the baguettes and let them cool in the oven for 20 minutes, then let them continue cooling on a wire rack. Serve sliced with butter.
Store baguettes wrapped in clean tea towels on the counter. Do not refrigerate, as this will make the bread go stale very quickly.