A French Baguette is my bread of choice. This long thin
bread has a crisp outer crust with a
wonderfully soft and chewy interior.
Freshly baked I often just tear off a chunk and eat it unadorned or with a slathering of butter.
Other times I like to dip small pieces of the bread in a good olive oil
that is laced with pesto. It's also great with
soups or stews, or to make a delicious sandwich.
You can use day old baguettes to make garlic bread or even croutons.
I went to the
Baking Institute (SFBI) to learn how to make baguettes. It was a five day bread making class that taught us theory
with lots of hands-on bread making, especially baguettes. It was a
terrific class and if you're ever in the Bay area I highly recommend this
First, let me say that there is
quite a bit of technique involved in making Baguettes so I recommend
watching the video. Now, baguettes are made with the most
basic of ingredients - flour, yeast, malt powder, salt, and water. First,
the flour. I have seen recipes for baguettes using just bread flour, some
using just all purpose (plain) flour, and some with a combination of the
two. For this recipe I use mainly bread flour with just a small amount of
all purpose flour. For the yeast, I like
SAF Gold instant yeast. This type of
yeast is normally used by professionals as it gives a good rise,
especially when making breads with long fermentation periods. An added
bonus is that since the grain particles are so small, it doesn't need
proofed. We also add some
(diastatic) powder which breaks down the starch and gives sugar
for the yeast to feed on. This is especially good for doughs, like this,
that have a long fermentation period. Malt powder also aids in browning. For the
salt I like to use kosher salt. And lastly we need water. I like to use filtered
water. The temperature of the water is very important when making baguettes as
it determines the temperature of the dough, which affects the rate of
There are many different ways to make baguettes, some
use a machine and some are made by hand. Also the amount of time you knead
the dough can vary by recipe. Typically the more you knead the dough, the
shorter the fermentation period. For this baguette recipe we use what is
called a "Hand Mix". This means we make the dough by hand and there isn't
any kneading involved. So this means the dough needs a long
fermentation period (three hours). This produces a baguette with excellent flavor
and texture. Lastly, once
baked there is always a temptation to eat the bread while it's still hot.
Resist this urge, baguettes need to cool down to room temperature for
maximum flavor and texture.
Continue to the French
Baguettes recipe page.......
Let's get baking!