I started making baguettes a few years ago, but really worked on the recipe in earnest once Nico and I started dating. He loves baguette, and would probably just eat baguette with a side of orange juice everyday if I didn’t make something else for dinner.
Over the past couple of years, my baguettes have been officially approved by every French immigrant that we have come in contact with, so you can take comfort in the authenticity of this recipe!
I can’t claim that baguettes are easy, it took me almost a year and buying a new oven to perfect my recipe! My aha moment was when I finally decided to rise my baguettes on a floured towel and the addition of ice cubes to the oven. Some people prefer to spray the baguettes with water before baking, but I am fond of my ice cube technique. The convection oven does wonders, but it was truly those two simple steps that made my baguettes into what they are today.
I cannot tell you about how much joy I derive out of not having to pay $5 per loaf at the grocery store and making three loaves for pennies instead! Baguettes are a staple in France, and to an extent, a large part of Western Europe. No one would think of charging more than a euro or two for a loaf!
Price aside, I have a hard time finding a true artisan baguette in the United States, generally, the baguettes here are an odd hybrid of baguette and white Sandwich Bread. The bread should be chewy with a crispy brown crust, not soft and fluffy with an egg-washed sheen.
Have patience with your loaves and yourself. Do not try to rush the rising process, but do not judge yourself if the loaves don’t look perfect the first time around. Odds are, if you followed the recipe, the bread will be delicious!
I like to use a razor blade to slice slits into my loaves, I find most knives catch a bit too much on the dough and leave awkward serration marks.
1 1/2 cup warm water
1/3 tsp yeast
3 1/4 cup flour
oil for greasing dough
1/2 – 1 cup ice cubes
- Mix water and yeast, leave for 10 minutes.
- Mix flour into yeast water. Leave to hydrate for 20 minutes.
- Add salt and knead for 10 minutes.
- Oil, cover, and leave to rise in cold oven with pilot light on to double in size. About 45 minutes.
- Remove to counter. Spread into a 10×10 inch square and fold as depicted in the images below.
- Fold two sides of dough onto itself to make a 5×10 inch rectangle. Fold the new long sides onto the center to make a 5×5 inch square. Pinch the edges shut.
- Place seam side down back into bowl. Let rise for another hour in the cold oven.
- Take a clean kitchen towel and spread generously with flour.
- Fold the towel into long waves with crevices for 3 loaves.
- Divide dough into three sections.
- Spread each piece of dough into a long rectangle about 6 inch wide by 9 inch long.
- Roll into a cigar shape and pinch the seam. You will end up with a 9 inch cigar.
- Hold the ends and stretch out like taffy until 12-15 inches long.
- Place in crevice in towel. Repeat.
- Cover with another clean towel and allow to rise for another hour.
- Place a metal pie pan or comparable dish in the oven on the low rack, reserving the top rack for the baguettes.
- Preheat oven to 450 with the convection fan on.
- Spread corn meal or flour onto a large cookie sheet.
- Transfer baguettes carefully onto floured cookie sheet, try not to deflate them.
- Cut ¼ inch deep slits with a razor blade or very sharp knife. Place in oven.
- Place 1 cup of ice cubes into the lower pan you placed in there earlier.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until dark brown on the outside. Flip halfway if you do not have a convection oven.
Total cooking time: 4 hours, makes 3 baguettes